By Gary Hatigeva
FINANCE Minister Manasseh Sogavare has presented the government’s Appropriation Bill to the National Parliament on Tuesday, seeking a total of $3,806,282,473 for the service of the state in 2019.
The Finance and Deputy Prime Minister, following the second reading of the 2019 Appropriation Bill 2018, delivered almost an hour of the Budget Speech where he enlightened the house on the insights of the bill, and justification for the projected total figure.
The Appropriation Bill actually sets out limits on new Government borrowing, for the purpose of relevant sections within the Financial Management Act 2013.
Under the borrowing status, the bill highlighted two categories of permitted borrowing, which includes borrowing by way of treasury bills to deal with exceptional circumstances, and borrowing from development partners or domestic financial institutions for the purpose of high priority infrastructures and development initiatives.
The Bill also included provisions relating to the issue by the Finance Minister of advanced warrants and contingency warrants during 2019.
Objectively, the Bill provides for a general warrant to be issue by the Minister of Finance of the total estimates, to the Permanent Secretary of Finance and Treasury.
And this according to the Minister when presenting the Bill, will further allows the issue of Accounting Warrants by the Permanent Secretary in accordance with section 56 and 57 of the Public Financial Management Act 2013.
In a general detail breakdown, the 2019 Appropriation has set out a total of $3,047,487,553 for the Recurrent Expenditure Estimates, which takes up three-quarter of the entire proposed budget for next year, with the Ministry of Education projected with the highest allocation of $1.17 Billion.
Second to it is the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, with an estimated allocation of $428,496,994 for its programmes.
Meanwhile, a total of $213,494,920 is highlighted under the Budget Support Estimates, for the benefit of five Ministries, namely, the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development, with share of $65.2 Million, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, with just over $134 Million, the Ministry of Police, National Security and Correctional Services, with an estimated allocation of $4 Million.
The other two included the Ministry of Fisheries, which is allocated an estimated $7.1 Million, and the $2.2 Million for the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology, under the 2019 Budget Support Estimates.
As for the Development Expenditure, a total of $545,300,000 was projected from the Development Estimates, which will be coming out directly from the Solomon Islands Government’s funds or basket.
However, a further $100 Million plus, is also projected, and authorized under this Act when passed, forecasted to expended through statutory charges on the Consolidated Fund, which includes just over $78 Million to be expended on National Debt Repayments.
The government has on the other hand, agreed that this budget will certainly hurt some ministries, as their allocations are again minimized, but suggested that without the actions, the government risks increasing its fiscal deficit to an unsustainable level, losing its credibility amongst stakeholders.
It is however revealed that most of the minimizations done are to ensure that projections are realistic and credible, and therefore stressed that all budgetary allocations have to be supported with some assurance that the resources targeted will be delivered successfully.
The 2019 Appropriation Bill will now be laid before the Public Accounts Committee for its inquiries, and later be brought back for Parliament’s further and final proceedings before the House dissolves.
Following its Second Reading and the Minister presenting it in Parliament yesterday, the House was adjourned through a special adjournment motion, to the 27th of this month, with all debates also being adjourned to after the resumption date.