IS SUIDANI LOSING POWER?

MPG fails to pass budget

By EDDIE OSIFELO

MALAITA Provincial Government (MPG) will rely on the ‘advice’ of Minister of Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening, Rollen Seleso, after their $24 million revised budget got defeated in Auki, on Tuesday.

Majority of the members of Provincial Assembly voted ‘Nos’ during the voice vote, after the debate of the revised budget.

Speaker of Malaita Province, Ronnie Butala said four MPAs debated the Minister of Finance’s speech on revised budget, when tabled in the Assembly.

Butala said the two common issues raised during the debate were over the Provincial Capacity Development Fund that was never paid to the province and the money in the Operational Heads, that have been vired already.

He said after the debate, it was put to voice vote in order to allow it to go through Committee of Supply and third reading.

“However, during the voice vote, the majority of the MPAs in the Chamber said ‘No’, so the ‘Nos’ have it.

“As such, under the Standing Order 47 in the Provincial Government Act 1997, I have no power to do anything about it,” he said.

Butala said he had sought advice from the Attorney General Office in Honiara.

He said a lawyer in the AG advised him that the Minister of Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening has the power to make any decision on the issue.

“I still have the report with me.

“I will submit to the Minister soon,” he added.

Further to that, he said the actual Budget is expected to be tabled in March.

However, advisor to Premier Suidani, Celsius Irokwato Talifilu posted on social media that it is not technically a new budget but rather a revised budget where the assembly meets to legalise any overspending or new revenue that took place in the last six months after a substantive budget was passed and expended.

Talifilu said when certain heads are overspent the process is to legalise those spending and if there is new money to come into the budget then that too needs to be legalised under the budget.

Moreover, he said technically MARA still has the numbers to rule.

Talifilu said the three ministers did not attend the meeting due to funerals in the family as well as one having a newborn child and stayed with his wife.

He said the premier still has 17 ministers, which is the majority of the assembly.

“The non-executive members were taking advantage of a situation when the 3 ministers were absent.

“This is irresponsible on the part of the non-executive members,” he added.

“Similarly, the nonexecutive should state their disagreements on the revised budget and the issues that need to be addressed rather than unnecessarily voting in opposition to the revised figures.

“After all, it is not a new budget but rather just a revised budget to legalise spendings that were not part of the budget when it was passed last year,” he added.

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