The government’s annual appropriations bill 2021/2022 presented to the Fono Ekepule by Minister of Finance Hon. Crossley Tatui projected government spending to be $33.5 million with estimated revenue of $28.8 million dollars, a deficit budget of $4.7 million dollars.
The summary breakdown of the government’s recurrent expenditure will spend $15.6 million on personnel costs, $5 million for pensions and welfare and $12 million for operational costs with $900 thousand for investment and development.
The government revenue stream of $28.8 million through direct budget support from the New Zealand government of $7.5 million, domestic revenue earnings of $18.3 million and a proposed $3 million dollars from COVID Response Funds.
This is the first of several BCN news stories covering the government’s 2021/2022 recurrent budget with information obtained from government sources.
Minister Tatu in his budget speech spoke of four key goals which define this budget and what the government aims to achieve with this budget. These goals are Covid 19 health response and recovery, Economic management and rebuilding, Sustainable development, and good governance.
COVID 19 HEALTH RESPONSE AND RECOVERY
Keeping Niue Covid free remains a key goal for the government. “We continue border restrictions to protect the health of our people”. The government will continue regular communications with donor partners and other agencies. The construction of a the isolation ward at the national hospital is one of the government’s highest priorities in this new budget in addition to other essential hospital renovations.
ECONOMIC MANAGEMENT AND REBUILDING
Minister Tatui said that despite the impacts of the pandemic the government will ensure they maintain the social safety and economic stability of the country by supporting and maintaining such economic stimulus as the Government Wage Subsidy which has supported 200 people from almost 100 businesses at an estimated $120 thousand a fortnight.
The government continues to explore the opportunities with the fledgeling export sector. The Niue Development Bank’s capital equity stands at $14 million and the government wants the Bank “to consider packages for young couples and first home-owners, soft loans for pensioners renovations and agricultural facility to help growers” according to the Ministers speech.
The government is committed to provide further capitalisation and new investment opportunities for the NDB to grow. “If NDB grows, the country prospers. If it shrinks, the country sinks”.
The minister spoke of the importance of the broadcasting corporation (BCN) and “despite the misfortune with the fire incident, the government remain committed to secure funding for its restoration”.
The minister spoke of the valuable partnerships and work closely with the private sector and non government organisations as well as the partnerships with regional and multi-lateral agencies in securing funding through projects. These projects help complement employment and contribute to the country’s GDP.
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND GOOD GOVERNANCE
Minister Tatui highlighted systemic “weaknesses on financial sustainability and the inability to fulfil timely audited reports”. The government will continue to analyse public policies to determine to determine which policies are still affordable and sustainable.
“To succeed in achieving our budget goals, we must practice good governance. This means, fulfilling our constitutional duties and abide by the laws of Niue”.
On the $4.7 deficit the minister says that the government must maintain trust in their fiscal policies with New Zealand which sets goals such as to achieve a break-even budget, look to diversifying revenue streams through SOEs (state-owned enterprises) and investment opportunities and timely preparation of monthly financial reporting.
Minister Tatui says that these goals are needed to build trust and confidence in the people and development partners for the government to give the best for the country.
Several members were not at the meeting today, including Minister Mona Ainuu and the member from Alofi North Va’aiga Tukuitonga who are both in quarantine having returned from New Zealand earlier this week sent in their apologies. The member for Hikutavake Opili Talafasi is overseas on medical leave and the member for Toi Dion Paki Taufitu sent their apologies. Common Roll member Stan Kalauni was also not at the meeting and it’s understood he left for New Zealand this week.
BCN news will cover stories on the budget breakdown by ministries, who benefits from what, and other budget impact stories in the coming days.