By EDDIE OSIFELO
CHAIRMAN of Public Accounts Committee, Douglas Ete has raised concerns on the 2023 Appropriation Bill 2022.
The Government through its line Ministries is asking Parliament to appropriate four billion, six hundred and sixteen million, three hundred and five thousand and six hundred and thirty-four dollars to the service of the financial year ending December 31, 2023.
Speaking on the debate of the Bill in Parliament on 5th December 2022, Ete said the Minister of Finance and Treasury, Harry Kuma highlighted two pillars of the budget.
- Transforming investments to boost recovery of the economy
- Empowering people and promote unity in the country
Ete said while this is an honorable cause, if one looks at the recovery policy of the government to recover the economy, it is seemingly while it is good, promotes uneven growth in his take.
“Growth is projected to be bolster through construction centrally on and in Honiara and a slice of the growth through the provinces.
“But under the fiscal budget, nearly one quarter of the budget is spent on Pacific Games 2023 in Honiara,” he said.
Ete said PAC suggests a package for visitors during the Games to also enjoy the Games and spend money on crucial importance.
He said there should be cultural attractions in Central Province, Gizo, Auki, something in the scale of what Festival of Pacific Arts did.
“The only issue was it incurred high debt on the preceding year in 2013 and hampered growth,” he added.
Furthermore, Ete said PAC also noted for 2023 for growth areas for the provinces, is thinly sliced.
He said creation of jobs will bear minimal as it is.
For example, Ete said under the Development, Ministry of Forestry is allocated $10.6 million.
However, he said Noro Timber year is given $3m, while Kolombangara Land Trust Fund Board is allocated $1 million.
Ete said the Ministry of Forestry is not aware of this $1 million allocation because it’s not in their programme.
He said it is questionable because the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Forestry is also the member of the KLTB.
Ete said it is not good because all budget preparation should come from Ministry.
“If give to them, give to all other Land Trust Boards like in Shortlands, North New Georgie and many others in Malaita.
“This is a question of equity and fairness,” he added.
However, Ete praised the Government for allocating $30 million to Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock.