Finance Minister introduces 2024 budget bill in parliament

THE Minister of Finance and Treasury, Hon. Harry Kuma, presented the 2024 Appropriation Bill (2024 Budget) for its second reading in Parliament on Tuesday 25th October.

The proposed budget seeks parliamentary approval for an allocation of a total of Four Billion, Two Hundred and Nine Million, Nine Hundred and Eighteen Thousand, and One Hundred Fifty-Eight dollars (SBD 4,209,918,158) to finance government operations during the fiscal year ending on December 31, 2024.

The 2024 Appropriation Bill plays a pivotal role in setting annual limits on new government borrowing, a measure mandated by Section 66 (2) of the Public Financial Management Act of 2013. Under this legislation, two categories of permitted borrowing are outlined:

Borrowing by Way of Treasury Bills for Exceptional Circumstances: This category allows the government to secure funds through Treasury Bills to address unforeseen or exceptional circumstances.

Borrowing from Development Partners or Domestic Financial Institutions for High-Priority Initiatives: The second category enables the government to borrow funds for critical infrastructure and development projects from development partners or domestic financial institutions.

Importantly, the Bill establishes specific borrowing limits for each of these permitted categories.

Additionally, the 2024 Appropriation Bill includes provisions related to the issuance of advance warrants and contingency warrants by the Minister for Finance and Treasury during the fiscal year 2024.

To gain a comprehensive understanding of the proposed budget’s financial policies and objectives, the Bill is meant to be read in conjunction with the Budget Papers provided to Parliament, including Budget Paper 1: Financial Policy Objectives and Strategies Statement.

Crucially, the Bill grants the Minister for Finance and Treasury the authority, in accordance with sections 55 and 56 of the Public Finance and Management Act of 2013, to issue a General Warrant to the Permanent Secretary of Finance and Treasury for an amount of up to Four Billion, Two Hundred and Nine Million, Nine Hundred and Eighteen Thousand, and One Hundred Fifty-Eight dollars.

Furthermore, the Bill enables the issuance of Accounting Warrants by the Permanent Secretary in line with Section 57 of the Public Financial Management Act of 2013. These warrants are detailed in Budget Paper 2: Recurrent Budget Estimates and Budget Paper 3: Development Budget Estimates.

In accordance with Standing Order 61(2), the debate on the 2024 Appropriation Bill has been adjourned.

This special adjournment was proposed by Prime Minister Hon. Manasseh Sogavare and is scheduled to reconvene on Monday, November 13, 2023.

During this adjournment, the Public Accounts Committee will scrutinize the Bill in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and Treasury and relevant government ministries and stakeholders before the parliamentary debate commences.

This marks a significant step in the Solomon Islands’ fiscal planning for the coming year, with a focus on prudent financial management and economic development.

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