Parliament has passed the first Supplementary Budget for the financial year 2017/18. The decision has just been made at their makeshift headquarters at Tuanaimato where the budget was the subject of debate for the past three days.
Parliament worked late into the night last night, when the Cabinet Ministers started addressing the concerns raised by Members of Parliament.
The bulk of the concerns from Members of Parliament focused on roading infrastructure, healthcare, education and basic utilities like water and electricity.
Other concerns targeted the abuse of social media and new technological advances.
The $24.4m budget was tabled by the Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti last year. In addressing Parliament then, Minister Sili said the budget continues the theme of Equity and Fairness.
“It is committed to maintaining the fiscal target of a budget deficit within 3.5% of G.D.P,” he said. “In pursuit of that target, all additional expenditures being requested under this Supplementary Budget are fully funded from confirmed additional revenues and reallocation of savings.
“The Supplementary Budget therefore is self-funded without the recourse to borrowing which means the fiscal deficit remains unchanged.”
Sili also highlighted that the economy continues to see positive growth “growing by 2.4% in 2016/17 in real terms.
“The strong growth was driven largely by the Commerce sector, Agriculture, Personal and other services as well as other Manufacturing,” he said.
“I am pleased to also report that a review of the 2016/17 Budget out turn has indicated that the 2016/17 budget deficit was 2.1% of G.D.P – well below the 3.5% fiscal target.
“This positive result was largely driven by improved revenue collection which was 3.7% higher than 2015/16. Tax collection was up 3.3% while other revenues, fees and charges increased by 1.1%. On the other hand, government operating expenditures declined for the third consecutive year.
“Government continues to invest in a number of essential infrastructure projects such as the rebuilding of the Faleolo terminal building and runway, new roads and bridges, the submarine cable and hydro power plants which will improve the services to the public.
“Mr. Speaker, these achievements demonstrate good governance in the management of government resources as well as the strengthening of whole of government approaches to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery.”
One of the most controversial and questioned figures featured in the $5.2million allocated for the Ministry for Prisons and Corrections.
Members of Parliament questioned the additional allocation of $3.7million to the project.
But the government explained that the amount is the final payment of the initial cost of the project which is $7.2million. $1.5million of the amount has been set aside for the construction of the Administration Block.
The Supplementary budget also confirmed the $290,000 as part payment of the hosting fee for the 2019 Pacific Games.
The following is the summary of the budget expenditures:
Summary of Additional Expenditures:
• $12.4million for the Statutory Vote;
- $14,400 for telephone allowances for members of the Judiciary.
These are mandated benefits and are now included as part of the
salaries of the members of the Judiciary;
- $65,089 additional required under the External Debt Servicing
- $2million additional required under the Income Tax Refunds;
- $3million additional for Duty Rebates;
- $7.35million additional required for VAGST Refunds;
• $102,915 to the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour;
- $20,915 additional required for the salary of the Principal Human
- $82,000 to finance a replacement vehicle for the Ministry as approved by Cabinet;
• $700,000 for the Ministry of Education;
- $500,000 additional required for the salaries of teachers;
- $200,000 additional to top up benefits for teachers;
• $5.66million to the Ministry of Finance;
- $2.55million for Duty on materials required for donor funded
- $2.55million for VAGST on materials used for donor funded
- $50,000 counterpart costs for the Apia Waterfront Development;
- $20,000 counterpart costs on the project for Disaster Risk
- $40,000 counterpart costs on the UNFPA Multi Agreement;
- $10,000 counterpart costs required under some initiatives of the
Customary Land Advisory Commission;
- $150,000 additional monies required under the counterpart costs
for the Enhancing Resilience of West Coast Road Project;
- $290,000 as part payment of the Hosting Fee for the 2019 Pacific Games;
• $60,270 for the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration;
- $60,270 for the remuneration of the Judicial Research
• $5.2million to the Ministry for Prisons and Corrections;
- $3.7million to complete the current contract on the construction
works for the 8 cell block building of the new prison;
- $1.5million initial costs for the construction of the Administration
Block for the new prison;
• $144,539 for the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet;
- this is intended to finance the 4 priority posts requested by the
• $131,000 to the Fire and Emergency Services Authority
- $131,000 to finance new pers