By EDDIE OSIFELO
PARLIAMENT started scrutinising the $4.6 billion budget for 2023 in the Committee of Supply.
This after members of both the Opposition and Government completed their debates from Monday to Thursday on December 5 to 8.
All have pledged their support behind the 2023 Appropriation Bill 2022 in their debates even though some members of the Opposition have questioned its credibility.
The theme of the 2023 Budget, “Iumi Together moving Solomon Islands forward”.
Minister of Finance and Treasury, Harry Kuma reiterated the need for unity, in order to the overcome the development challenges faced by the country.
The development challenges were further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, November 2021 riots and the Ukraine war.
Kuma said the number-one priority now is to rebuild the economy.
He said this is why the 2023 budget is not a ‘business as usual budget’ but a historical budget with a deficit to accommodate once in a lifetime Pacific Games next year.
Kuma said a deficit budget is not a bad thing but how you channel the funds is important in order to finance the deficit.
He said the Government will fund the deficits from:
- general supports from Development partners for an amount of $320 million;
- issue of SIG Development bonds and expects to raise $400 million from that;
- arrange for external borrowings,
- rolling over unspent development funds to next year and
- additional revenue policy measures.
In addition, Minister of Minister of National Planning and Development Coordination, Rexson Ramofafia said as Minister Kuma alluded to in his speech, whilst delivering the 2023 budget, the economy contracted by 4.5% in 2022.
He said inflation rose to 2.7%, in large part owing to high global fuel prices as a result of the Russia Ukraine war.
“Production and international trade have been affected as indicated by declines in exports and resultantly declines in our trade balance.
“These are but general economic indicators,” he said.
Ramofafia said the flow through impacts on people’s wellbeing and livelihoods have also been felt.
“It is very important for us to respond accordingly and implement measures that ensure that our country recovers and continues to grow, and that our people people’s wellbeing and livelihoods is protected. “Despite a challenging global and domestic environment and context, we must continue to maintain the focus on advancing our country and moving our people forward,” he added.