The Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti, has revealed that his goal for the 2017-2018 budget is to consolidate what has been achieved over the past financial year.
Sili is expected to table his budget today when Parliament convenes at its makeshift home in Tuanaimato.
Asked about what members of the public can expect, Sili told the Samoa Observer he wants to increase government revenues and reduce unnecessary expenses.
“We’re looking at our revenues,” he said. “We want to be able to see reductions in the budget deficit, it’s 3.5 now so we can get it down to 2.1 or 2.2 or 2…that will be good.
“It’s really about creating savings to put aside for other things.”
Sili said the government has to be prudent with its spending. For instance, in the case of new ministries as part of the public service review, he said these must be justified.
“We want to make sure that they are justified. We are looking at improving the capacity of ministries in the implementation of projects. It’s an area that needs to be revisited and it’s really to make sure that our service delivery to the public is efficient and effective.”
Sili also wants to eliminate a lot of red tape.
“A lot of people complain about waiting for payments of accounts. It’s not that we are broke, the delay has always been in my view, there are too many processes.
“People think there is a cash flow problem with the government, there’s no cash flow, it’s just that people who need to make decisions are not making decisions.
“There’s too much red tape and that’s one of the things we are trying to look at. We are also looking at the use of technology and I.C.T to simplify the processing.”
Sili said there is plenty of work to do.
“We need to make sure we have our spending priorities in the right area. We want make sure that ministries are being efficient and make sure the cost of delivering of services will come down, we need to prioritise, I mean everything is important here but sometimes you need to prioritise those priorities to make sure that we are spending in the areas that are of the highest priority to the government.”
The Minister added that the government’s focus remains on education, health and infrastructure. Ultimately, the goal is to get better every year, he said.
And Samoa is in a good position to do that.
“We challenge ourselves to do better, to make better use of the resources that we have but also to keeping our eyes open for opportunities to innovate and to try something different,” he said.
“We have the I.M.F article information in January, we had the visit from the Vice President of the World Bank, most recently we had a visit from several directors and board members of the Asian Development Bank. They are very happy and positive with what Samoa is doing.
“They are very happy with how we are doing things in terms of the budget, in terms of our foreign reserves, in terms of our forward looking, thinking in terms of what next and where we want to be.”
“I think the fact we had all of those three key multilateral institutions, we are happy with what we are doing because it’s been validated by them and they’ve helped identify potential areas of risk.”
Still there is a lot more work to get done.
“Sometimes we disagree on what we are doing and how we are doing it but in the end we have an understanding why we are doing things in a certain way.
“We also look at what they say on what they are doing and working together so that we can improve on what we are doing on working together.
“I’m pleased with where we are right now, but there’s a lot more we need to do.”
Parliament begins at 9am at Tuanaimato.
Along with the Stamp Duty Amendment Bill 2017, which is under Urgency, the Appropriation Bill 2017/2018 will be introduced for its first and second reading.