Parliament passes $982 million budget
The Parliament passed the Government’s $982 million 2021/2022 budget midnight Thursday in a marathon session to wrap up close to two weeks of parliamentary debate.
The budget’s approval by the House means that the new Government can now abandon the transitional budget emergency arrangement that was activated close to three months ago by the former Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) administration during the political impasse following the 9 April general election.
On the last night of the budgetary debate, the H.R.P.P. Members scrutinised the Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) budget and offered insights on their previous government projects as well as advice.
The opposition party was mostly critical of the new priorities heralded by the F.A.S.T. administration in order to deliver on its election promises, raising concerns on how they will be funded.
But the Minister of Finance, Mulipola Anarosa Ale-Molio’o was firm on the governing party’s focus for a shared prosperity for all people of Samoa.
Addressing what the opposition bench described as “handouts” to the community through several priority areas focusing on social welfare, Mulipola expressed disappointment at statements that claimed the direct assistance to the community would not generate economic benefit.
She disputed the argument that it would increase dependency on the Government by the community.
“My belief is the social welfare of a nation and educated people is the heart of its economy, it depends on its people, it does not depend on road construction,” the Minister told the parliament.
“If you observe we are facing countless problems with our health: an increase on obesity and a fallback on learning and a rise on violence against women.
“We also have built another prison and it’s a reflection of the rise in our social problems that affects the harmony of our people.”
The Minister also made reference to the Samoa Victim Support Group (S.V.S.G.) refuge at Tuanaimato which continues to shelter an increasing number of victims, which she added is evidence of an increase in domestic violence cases.
She noted that the theme for the budget in this fiscal year is “recovery, building resilience and shared prosperity for all the people of Samoa”.
The 2021/2022 budget’s theme resonates with the vision of the FAST to strengthen the foundation of each and every home in Samoa, which according to Mulipola has become weak.
The core message in the budget for this fiscal year, said the Minister, is to strengthen families, Christian beliefs and a culture “that is slowly fading”.
“By working together and giving advice then we can reach that goal in our main budget,” Mulipola said.
The Appropriation Bill 2021 which the Government introduced under a certificate of urgency last week was passed on Thursday morning at around 1.30am.
The Minister, in an interview with the media, said she was glad the Government’s money plan was passed by the Parliament and the budgetary process has given her a better understanding of the procedures.
Having clocked just over six weeks in office as a Government, Mulipola said it is crucial to be prepared and the consideration of the budget and its details showed how important it is to be ready.
She said it is at this juncture that practice makes perfect and the new Government’s first budget was just the beginning of more benefits to come.