The Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti, is expected to table a “strict” budget today at Tuanaimato when Parliament reconvenes for the first time in its XVI parliamentary term.
Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi will be absent as he is in Papua New Guinea for the 2016 Leaders Summit for the African, Caribbean and Pacific (A.C.P.) Group of States meeting.
The Minister of Public Enterprises, Lautafi Selafi Purcell said the maiden budget sends out a message to all government ministries that what you see is what you get.
“You can wish and wish (for more) but you cannot get blood from stones,” said Lautafi.
“We have distributed the money to what is fair for every Ministry and that is all they will be getting. It’s a very strict budget and whatever is given to us we will work with that.”
Lautafi declined to reveal how much the budget is, saying all will be revealed today by the Minister of Finance.
Being responsible with some of the government’s main Ministries that include Samoa Tourism Authority, Public Enterprises and Ministry of Commerce, Lautafi said they will take what they are given.
“The aim with my Ministries is work with the budget,” he said.
“We have to look at the revenue generating aspects of the operation to ensure that we are getting that revenue and reduce expenses in all aspects of every Ministry.
“There is nothing that the government can do if we don’t have that much money…we have to make sure that every cent counts in all the work they do.” According to Lautafi, the government has cut back on all the expenses “that we see we can do without while we try to pick up things”.
The Minister emphasised that the government is leading by example.
Asked if this means that allowances for M.P.s and Ministers are also cut back, Lautafi said yes.
“We have reduced them,” he said.
“Every area has been scrutinized and all expenses too around the clock. We are going to run a very tight ship in this parliamentary term and every Minister is aware of that.
“Each Minister has to make sure that their Ministry is ticking along with that money and know that nothing more will be given.”
Pointing to the Ministry of Public Enterprises which collects all dividends from each S.O.E., Lautafi said they too need to make sure they pay their dividends.
In his weekly programme with 2AP last week, Tuilaepa said just like the previous year’s budget this year’s one will be living within our means.
“It all depends on our revenue,” he said. “We can talk about billions we can only use what we have…we cannot spend what we don’t have in our pockets.” When Tuilaepa tabled the budget for 2015/2016 this time last year he told Parliament the objective was to live within our means.
“This is the most sustainable approach going forward,” he said last year.
“We can no longer depend on the generosity of our development partners forever. We need to look internally at the revenue generated domestically and ask the hard question…what can we afford given the revenue we have?”
Tuilaepa stated “we need to be prudent in prioritising our development agenda so that the service delivery to the public is not compromised.”