Opposition Leader Jeremiah Manele says the use or abuse of Contingency Warrant is getting worse therefore planning and budgeting processes must be strengthened.
Mr Manele was speaking in Parliament today during the debate on the 2016 Appropriation Bill 2017.
“While, contingency warrants are meant for urgent and unforeseen expenditures, a good number of contingency warrant expenditures that appear in supplementary budgets over the years including in this bill are not urgent and unforeseen in nature,” he says.
Yesterday, Finance Minister Snyder Rini tabled the Appropriation Bill which regularize a total of $92,243,517.00 spent during the last two quarters of 2016, of which $49.7 million was for expenditures under Contingencies Warrants, and $42.5 million was for expenditure under Advance Warrants.
“Sir, as we know these are funds that have already been spent.
“The Public Finance Management Act provides the legal basis for the Minister of Finance and Treasury to bring supplementary appropriation bills to Parliament during the course of any financial year for urgent and unforeseen needs to be funded under contingency warrants.
“However, Mr. Speaker, I think we have abused to some extent these legal provisions over the years.
“While, contingency warrants are meant for urgent and unforeseen expenditures, a good number of contingency warrant expenditures that appear in supplementary budgets over the years including in this bill are not urgent and unforeseen in nature.
“They could have been included in the budget proper for that year. They are not really urgent and unforeseen expenses. They may be urgent but not important. Not everything that is urgent is important.
“…it seems that nothing has changed, if anything it is getting worse in terms of the use or abuse of contingency warrants.”
Mr Manele says the trend means planning and budgeting processes are not robust enough.
“We need to strengthen the link or cycle between policy, planning, budgeting, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.
“Sir, the Central Government Ministries of the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet; the Ministry of Finance and Treasury; the Ministry of Development Planning and Aid Coordination; and the Ministry of Public Service must take charge in coordinating and resourcing government line ministries to implement Government policies through the budget.
“I therefore support the recommendation in the PAC report that we need qualified planning and budgeting personnel in all our government ministries. This is to ensure that budget bids that are submitted to MDPAC and the Ministry of Finance and Treasury are properly costed and in line with the policy priorities of the Government of the day.”
The Opposition Leader adds that equally important is the need for political direction from the responsible cabinet ministers to guide their respective ministries in planning, formulating, and implementing the budget according to the Government’s policy intentions and programs.
“Sir, I believe this political direction is lacking since some Ministers hardly turn up for work, or they simply do not understand the work of their ministries.
“Mr. Speaker, a robust planning and budgeting process also means that the annual budget consultations must be participatory and inclusive of all government agencies including our provincial governments, SOEs, the private sector and rural communities where possible.
“This is to enhance our peoples’ ownership of the budget, as well as, help the Government to manage the expectations of our people in terms of the Government’s capacity to deliver goods and services in any given financial year.
“I guess such a consultative and participatory approach could also minimize the use of contingency warrants in Supplementary budgets.”