MP slams proposed budget, says it sidelines crucial development sectors

MP slams proposed budget, says it sidelines crucial development sectors
Paul Baba, who is the deputy chairperson for the committee on trade and industries in the Reconstituted Transitional National Legislative Assembly. [Matia Samuel, The City Review]

A lawmaker in the national assembly has argued that the proposed SSP2 trillion 2023–2024 budget falls short of the country’s quest to shed oil dependency.

Paul Baba, who is the deputy chairperson for the committee on trade and industries in the Reconstituted Transitional National Legislative Assembly, said they expected the change from oil dependency to other sectors to create more employment, but the budget does not address that. He argued that fiscal policy has allocated a mammoth amount of funding to recurrent expenditure and alienated development.

“If you look at this budget in general, you will find that the budget is allocated only for finance spending,” he said.

According to the lawmaker, the budget only favours those working in government at the expense of the common person at the grassroots.

He raised the issues during the presentation of the budget by the finance minister to parliament yesterday.

“I have not seen anything that is new in this budget. We are just talking about how we will eat the money for the next year to come, so here I can’t celebrate, and instead, I am disappointed,” Baba stated.

He said the budget failed to recognise the small and medium enterprises that are supporting the government.

“The farmers, with the small contribution they are making, we need to appreciate them. If we were to care about them, we would appreciate them with just a word of thanks,” Baba stressed.

“The common person on the road is not benefiting; the sectors that we are supposed to give services to are the health, the schools, and so on, but where are they? We are not planning on how we are going to channel support to these people,” Baba added.

The MP said the ministry of finance is silent about the skyrocketing prices in the market and is doing nothing about it.

“Today, you see how prices are skyrocketing in the market; we are not talking about it. How are we going to meet it? How are we going to reduce the prices? Everyone is really suffering.”

He continued that the executive always brings an envelope budget, which is dictated to the national assembly.

“This budget is only about finance; we have not seen anything in this budget talking about the economic planning of this nation. We would have come up with projects that we want to utilise in the coming years, but there is nothing there,” Baba explained.

The agriculture sector is supposed to be empowered, empowered not only by talking but empowered by the project. There are schemes that need to be created,” he added.

Yesterday, the national minister of finance and planning, Dier Tong Ngor, tabled the expenditure proposal for the Fiscal Year 2023-2024, which amounted to SSP 2,105, 014,441, 619 under the theme “Consolidating Peace and Stabilising the Economy.”

Out of the SSP2.1 trillion budget, SSP455.4 billion will cover the increment of salaries and wages, and the government announced the new structure: SSP222.7 billion will cater for the use of goods and services, SSP541.8 billion for capital expenditure, and SSP50 billion for peace implementation.

The minister also proposed an allocation of SSP 37.8 billion for contingencies, SSP 47.8 billion for the Constituency Development Funds, and SSP 32.5 billion for salary arrears in the diplomatic missions.

MORE FROM NATIONAL