Just after 4.30 pm today and after two days of deliberations, the Fono Ekepule passed the government’s annual appropriations bill 2021/2022 formalising the total expenditure budget of $37,392,000 which includes the donor funding development budget.
The government’s recurrent expenditure budget remains at $33.5 million, revenue estimates of $28.8 million which means the deficit remains at over $4.6 million dollars.
Minister of Finance Hon. Crossley Tatui confirmed to BCN news this afternoon that there were no changes to the figures which were presented on June 3rd when the budget was first tabled before it was sent to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for review. Minister Tatui says that he expects economic reforms will continue.
The PAC chairperson Richard Hipa presented the committee’s report yesterday and was well received by most of the members of the Fono.
However Premier Dalton Tagelagi told the Fono that he had expected the Public Accounts Committee to include in their report recommendations on ways to address the deficit, but this was not the case. The premier said that the committee’s report contained recommendations which dealt mainly with operational matters, things of which his government had already started to work on. The Premier said that he was hoping for some recommendations which will reduce the expenditure or at lease lower the deficit.
The first day of deliberations yesterday started with some hiccups as members found it difficult to follow the new format of the reading of the appropriations bill.
Former Finance Minister and politician of nearly 30 years Terry Coe argued with the Speaker Hima Takelesi on the way to read through the budget.
Other long sitting members including member for Vaiea Talaititama Talaiti also tried to help with ways to read the appropriations bill.
This prompted veteran politician O’love Jacobsen to ask for a training workshop on how to read the budget document.
However, Speaker Hima Takelesi stood firm in following the procedures of the Standing Orders and proceeded with the reading of the Bill.
After years of a certain practice in the reading of the appropriations bill, the members slowly but surely got used to the new format.
So, after two days of deliberations in the Fono Ekepule, about two weeks of discussions and review by the Public Accounts committee with all government departments, the figures introduced in the first reading of the bill remain the same.
The Niue government’s recurrent budget for this fiscal year remains at over $4 million deficit, however, Minister of Finance Crossley Tatui did allude to a supplementary budget should it be required.