EDITORIAL- Can we get an assurance from the Gov’t?

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AT this critical time, Government has a responsibility to inform the people about its cash-flow situation.

Businesses and service providers in particular need this kind of information to help them plan ahead.

An email the Accountant General Bruce Phillips sent to all Permanent Secretaries and Financial Controllers last Friday says the Government is in serious cash-flow problem.

“We have an immediate shortfall of $40 million and this amount is growing daily at present time,” Philips said in his email.

This, the account general said, is affecting the settlement of outstanding payments of $103 million that was cleared through the compliance process and ready for payment.

“Clearly something must be sacrificed in the very short term until our cash reserves are built up again.

“As such Treasury has agreed to priorities weekly SIG salaries, utility payments, Ministry of Rural Development related payments and provincial government grants until 30th June.”

He also pointed out that third quarter parliamentary allowances and housing rental payments are all due in nine business days.

The situation came was a direct result in the shortfall in revenue collection by some $40 million.

When Government finances are bad, it is the people and businesses that rely heavily on the state that suffer most.

This is going to be exactly the case in the current situation.

Business houses and service providers who may be expecting their payments this month and the next may not get it at all.

Government services such as health and education are definitely going to be affected as well.

Phillips described the situation as “short-term funding challenge” and assured the Ministry of Finance and Treasury is doing everything possible to address it.

While this is not the first time the Government has experienced serious cash-flow problem, the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic has made the current situation terribly worrying, if not, frightening.

With the huge drop in export and limited incoming revenue sources, the Government needs to inform the nation how it is going to turn the situation round.

Saying it is going to address the situation is not enough.

Solomon Islanders want assurance that their lives will not be made worse by the current cash-flow problem.


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