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Parliament Passes The Town And Country Planning (Amendment) Bill 2016.;Solomon Islands Tertiary Education And Skills Authority Bill 2016 Passed.;

Parliamentary Strengthening Project

 

TUESDAY 6TH DECEMBER 2016

Finance Minister, Hon. Snyder Rini
Finance Minister, Hon. Snyder Rini

Minister of Finance and Treasury, Hon Snyder Rini announced this when
introducing the 2017 budget in Parliament yesterday.

He said, “Sir the Budget that I present today will deliver a record $4.1 billion in spending to social services, rural infrastructure, rural development activities and key programs to provide both quality and coverage of public investments to our people.”

He said it will enable ministries to maintain essential services for our people and lay foundations for future growth for the nation.

Hon. Rini informed the House of where Government will source revenue to fund this budget, which is a combination of domestic revenue, external budget support and cash reserves that successive Governments have built up over recent years.

With these revenue sources, he assures that the 2017 budget is in a fiscally sound position.

Hon. Rini continue to say that total revenue for 2017 is expected to hit $3,909.2 million, where total domestically sourced revenue is expected to be at $3,555.3 million, an increase of $577.3 million ( or 19.6 per cent) over the 2016 Revised Budget Estimate.

Domestic revenue is expected to be sourced from the following:

  • Inland revenue - $1,990 million
  • Customs - $997.5 million
  • Other Ministries - $567.8 million

The Government expects an estimated donor support of $283 million, including $80 million in general support from the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.

On the expenditure side, the Government is budgeting to spend $4,087.6 million. This is made up of $2,906.8 million for recurrent expenditure and $1,180 million for development expenditure.

Of the recurrent expenditure of $2,906.8 million, $2,622.9 million will be on recurrent operations of which Payroll will be $1,028.5 million. Other charges $1,594.3 million and donor budget support for recurrent operations $283.9 million.

He further added that Government also plans to spend $1,180.8 million in major strategic investments, which comprises of $1,110.8 million from domestic sources and $70.0 million from donor development assistance, principally the Republic of China.

91 percent of the recurrent and development budget expenditures are funded by domestic sources, while 9 percent from the donor community.

Hon. Rini said, to enable the Government to continue provide services and undertake productive infrastructure projects that are not provided for in the primary allocations, there are provisions in the Appropriation Bill that the Government may utilize.

He finally added that the 2017 budget provides for $85 million recurrent and for development contingency warrants. Expenditures for which are at this time unforeseen and are not factored in the budget.

It also set a borrowing limit of $900 million and an advance warrant limit of $200 million.

The Finance Minister reminded the House on the use of Contingency Warrants, that these are for unbudgeted or unforeseen expenditures, such as national emergencies and disasters, but also for ensuring we have fiscal buffers.

“Such funds, Sir, maintain the continued and unhindered implementation of services, whilst accommodating for sudden ‘one off’ or ‘off budget’ requirements. This is consistent with the purpose set out in the Constitution,” he explained.

In executing and managing the 2017 Budget, the Finance Minister lists several measures that Government will implement in 2017 to strengthen the alignment of government’s priorities to the allocation of our scarce resources through the budget to maintain its credibility.

Unlike 2015 and 2016 Budgets, the level Government cash reserves required to balance the 2017 Budget will be reduced significantly to $178.4 million. This demonstrates not only Government’s commitment to refocus expenditure to key infrastructure and priority spending but also shows Government’s intention to maintain and rebuild its cash reserves at a sustainable level.

  1. Ministry of Finance is in the process of formulating a whole set of regulations under the Public Finance Management Act for the purpose of clarifying sections of the Act to make it easier for Ministries to formulate and execute their budgets in line with the Act. The first regulation is called, The Public Finance Management (internal Audit) Regulation has been completed and enforced since 5 August 2016.
  2. The Public Finance Management (Procurement) Regulation is currently being drafted and other regulations such as the Debt Management Regulations, Cash Management Regulation, Budget and Fiscal Responsibility Regulations will follow thereafter. These regulations, when implemented effectively, will help improve the management of public resources and the efficiency of execution of budgets so that we continue to improve the performance of our budgets and service delivery to our people.

    To support the implementation of these regulations, Hon, Rini said committees of senior officials must be established and be institutionalized within the regulations.
    He said an audit committee has been set up under the auspices of the Public Finance Management (internal Audit) Regulation.

  3. The Budget Strategic Committee (BSC) and Budget Coordination Committees (BCC) that were established in 2016 will also be finalized.

Hon Rini told Parliament that our Budget is only as good if they are implemented.

The Finance Minister announced that the 2017 Budget is the first step in delivering the National Strategic Goals, which will be finalized by the end of this year.

The 20 years National Development Strategy (NDS) – 2016 - 2035 has been approved and launched in April 2016. It presents the overall vision and long term development objective that aims to improve social and economic livelihoods of all Solomon Islanders, through a return to economic growth by delivering on the following objectives:

  • Sustained and inclusive economic growth
  • Poverty alleviated across the whole of the Solomon Islands, basic needs addressed and food security improved; benefits of development more equitably distributed
  • All Solomon Islanders have access to quality health and education
  • Resilient and environmentally sustainable development with effective disaster risk management, response and recovery
  • Unified nation with stable and effective governance and public order

Hon. Rini said the 2017 Budget focuses on these areas, but new projects take time to design and effectively implement. So over the next 2-3 years, greater focus will be given to developing and implementing projects that provide infrastructure in rural areas and which help create the environment for sustained economic growth.

To this end, he said his Ministry and the Ministry of Development Planning and Aid Coordination (MDPAC) will ensure that all programmes and projects that are included in the Budget, going forward, must be ready for implementation and properly costed so that they are completed successfully on time within Budget.

He concluded that MDPAC and his Ministry are working with all ministries to improve proper budget planning and prioritization and compliance with budget instructions for both formulation and execution.

Meanwhile, the 2017 budget is drop by $0.1 Billion compared to the 2016 budget which was $4.2 billion.

THURSDAY 24TH NOVEMBER 2016

Parliament meeting is further adjourned to Monday 5th December 2016 to give time for the public Accounts Committee to scrutinize the 2017 Appropriation Bill 2016.

Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Manasseh Maelanga moved the motion of special adjournment.

He said that’s the only reason for this adjournment.

Leader of Opposition, Hon. Jeremiah Manele thanked the Acting Prime Minister for moving the motion.

He said it is important for the sake of transparency and accountability that the committee takes the opportunity to scrutinize all the budgets for all the Ministries.

He also thanked the Minister of Finance for availing budget documents which are now before the Committee.

The leader, however, encourage all ministers to remind their Permanent Secretaries and Financial Controllers to turn up on time as scheduled so that PAC do not have any further delays in the inquiries.

Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Hon. Rick Hou also thanked and acknowledge the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance for considering the Committee’s letter of request to government to give more time for these inquiries.

He said the time given for PAC to do its work is adequate and PAC has begun inquiries on Monday the 21st.

Meanwhile, the 2017 Appropriation Bill 2016 goes through the first reading today. The other bill that also goes through first reading is the, ‘Ombudsman Bill 2016.’

Parliament’s adjournment to Monday 5th Dec 2016 is the third adjournment in a row for this particular meeting.

MONDAY 21ST NOVEMBER 2016

pac
Public Accounts Committee

The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee will begin public hearings into 2017 Budget on Monday, beginning with the Central Bank of the Solomon Islands, The World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and then the Ministry of Finance and Treasury on Day One.

Under Parliamentary Standing Orders, the Public Accounts Committee reviews the Budget on behalf of the Parliament, and reports back on issues and challenges that it finds.

This year, every Ministry will appear before the Committee over the coming 10 days.
Part of the process will be to understand key economic indicators for the Solomon Islands, including why growth is expected to be 3.25% in 2017, why 3% inflation, why nominal GDP has fallen to 5.6%, why Government is looking at record revenue collections of $3.5 billion, why a deficit budget of $179 million is proposed, and why a continued freeze on public sector staffing applies.

The Committee is expected to report to Parliament before the end of the month, and will be meeting daily until the task is complete.

ENDS///

FRIDAY 18TH NOVEMBER 2016

Parliament at its resumption on Monday 14th November 2016 is again adjourned to Tuesday 22nd November 2016.

Prime Minister Hon. Manasseh Sogavare moved the motion of special adjournment based on the following reasons;

  • To give ample time for the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to do its oversight role in scrutinizing the 2017 Appropriation Bill 2016.
  • A number of questions that were put on notice by the opposition for the government to answer were still pending thus the PM is urging the opposition to raise them again in order for the government to have time to provide explanations.
  • To allow the Bills Committee to complete their other tasks as well as inquiry on other upcoming bills that are brought before them.

This was the second time the Prime Minister had moved a motion of special adjournment since the final meeting resumed. The first adjournment was on Tuesday the 1st of November where it was adjourned to Monday 14th November.

The first special adjournment was for similar reasons. That is to allow the Bills and Legislation Committee to conduct its hearings into the Town and Country Planning (Amendment) Bill 2016, the Land Surveyors Bill 2016, the Adoption Bill 2016, Pacific games 2023 Bill 2016, Child and family welfare Bill 2016 and the Solomon Islands Tertiary Education and Skills Authority Bill 2016.

It is understood that the Wildlife Protection and Management (Amendment) Bill 2016 was read the first time on the floor of Parliament and is also awaiting scrutiny process by the Bills and Legislation Committee.

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