Monday, March 27, 2023
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No mini budget, focus is on priority areas

Minister for Finance and Deputy Prime Minister, Professor Biman Prasad says there is no need for a mini budget at the moment and under the Public Financial Management Act, the Government can redeploy funds to different Ministries.

When asked whether it was prudent to not go with a mini budget as through annual budget Appropriation Act, Parliament appropriates money to the Budget Heads which are generally Government Ministries, Prof Prasad said the best way forward is to reprioritise and revisit the policies.

Prof Prasad said that this window is an opportunity for Government to have a very thoughtful and have a very clear budget, later.

“We have had supplementary budgets and mini budgets before; where you have changes in policies one day and reinstatements of other policy tomorrow.”

“We are not about that kind of inconsistency and haphazard making. This is a Government, which is focused on providing a very, very clear approach and that approach is setting up important committees like the Fiscal Review Committee, which is going to look at the expenditure and revenue policies, tax policies, also host the Economic Summit which we will consult the relevant stakeholders, which will then be fed into the budget in July,” he added.

The Minister also responded to questions raised by the Leader of Unity Fiji Party and the former Governor of Reserve Bank  Savenaca Narube on why the Government was very quiet on the money front.

Prof Prasad said different people will have different take on this issue; however, the People’s Coalition Government is a new Government and that priorities are being firmly put in place.

He said the Government is actively looking at new priorities, while at the same time dealing with the mess left by the previous FijiFirst Government.

“This is the way that the People’s Coalition Government has decided to go,” he added.

Meanwhile Narube said that Section 141 of the Constitution and Section 14 of the Public Financial Management Act (PFMA) state that all government expenditures must be appropriated by Parliament before they are spent.

Narube said through the annual budget Appropriation Act, the Parliament appropriates money to the Budget Heads, which are generally government ministries.

He said to fund its new initiatives; the new Government will have to redirect funds from another area.

“The PFMA prescribes the conditions of moving funds within a Budget Head only. Strictly speaking, the Government cannot redirect expenditures between Budget Heads because these have not been appropriated by Parliament.”

“Some governments manoeuvre around the appropriation requirement by taking a Supplementary Budget to Parliament after they have spent the money. This regularization after the money has been spent is not in the spirit of the Constitution and the PFMA. It is not the proper way of prudent public financial management,” Narube added.

Also, last week, the Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka was reported saying that Government will soon be preparing a mini budget soon in adherence to Section 141 of the Constitution and Section 14 of the Public Financial Management Act.

Ilaitia Ravuwai
Ilaitia Ravuwai
Journalist |


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