No budget in upcoming parl session

National Parliament of Solomon Islands
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THE Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement (DCGA) will not table the 2021 National budget when Parliament resumes on Monday, November 9.

This is not possible because the government is heavily focused on the coronavirus pandemic in the country and has little time to prepare the budget proper.

Chairman of Public Accounts Committee, Douglas Ete said currently there is no budget proper to scrutinise ahead of the sitting of Parliament.

Ete said it is highly likely the budget proper will come before his committee around January or February next year.

He said the Minister of Finance is highly likely to table a resolution to allow authorization of money in the Consolidated Fund to meet the operation of the public service until the expiry of four months.

However, Ete said if the front-line ministries in the covid-19 are spending money outside of their budget, government should bring a Supplementary Bill to Parliament for blessing.

This is in line with Section 103 of the Constitution and Section 58 of the Public Financial Management Act 2013.

According to Section 103-(1) If the Appropriation Act in respect of any financial year has not come into operation by the beginning of that financial year, Parliament by resolution may empower the Minister of Finance to authorize the issue of moneys from the Consolidated Fund for the purpose of meeting expenditure necessary to carry on the public services at a level not exceeding the level of these services in the previous financial year, until the expiration of four months from the beginning of that financial year or the coming into operation of the Appropriation Act, whichever is the earlier.

In Section 58 of PFMA 2013, the Minister (Finance) may only consider an application for a contingency warrant if the following conditions are met:

  1. An urgent and unforeseen need has arisen to authorize an issue from the Consolidated Fund;
  2. No such issue has been authorized by an Appropriation Act or Supplementary Appropriation Act for the relevant financial year; and
  3. The issue cannot be delayed without detrimental effects to the public interest.

Some frontline ministries are adamant their budget will run out before the end of the year in December because most money are spent on covid-19 preparation and response.

Chairman of National Disaster Council and National Disaster Operation Committee, Loti Yates said so far, the government has provided funding to meet needs in the quarantine centers like food and others.

However, he told the Health and Medical Services Committee in Parliament yesterday that for their budget to reach December is something that a request will be put forward to government to consider.

Parliament passed $3.8 billion 2020 National Budget on Tuesday, December 17, 2019.

It also passed two Supplementary Appropriation Bills in September 2020.