#Article (Archive)

Opposition NAMs Raise Concern Over Budget

Dec 17, 2008, 4:10 AM | Article By: Abba A.S. Gibba

Except for minority in the National Assembly, all the National Assembly Members are of the judgement that the presented Draft Estimates is a satisfactory document, as the National Assembly approved the Estimates of Revenue, Recurrent and Development Expenditure for Fiscal Year 2009 on Monday 15thDecember 2008.

The draft estimates were presented to the National Assembly by Secretary of State for Finance and Economic Affairs, Musa Gibril Bala Gaye on the 1stof December 2008 for consideration and approval of the lawmakers.

For Sedia Jatta, and Babanding Daffeh, members for Wuli West and Kiang Central Constituencies respectively, there are some ambiguities and complexities in the budget estimates.

The same day the Secretary of State for Finance and Economic Affairs presented to parliament a supplementary appropriation bill to authorise certain additional payments from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the period 1stJanuary to 31stDecember 2008. In moving the motion for the authorisation of the National Assembly, the Secretary of State maintained that the disbursement rate for public funds for the Fiscal Year 2008 has been very impressive.

He added that although the government had taken some measures in 2008 to stabilise the prices of rice and petroleum products, these measures however did not impact positively on revenue mobilisation. He revealed that the actual payment current expenditure has reached D2, 244 million, of which personal emoluments is D905 million. Goods and services is D889 million; subsidies and transfers D450 million which includes pensions and gratuities. Capital expenditure amounted to D334 million and equity participation D106 million at the same time government expenditure and arrears and short-term loans payments registered D297 million. These expenditures, according to the Secretary of State, had raised a total payment of D2, 963 million as at 8thDecember 2008. He added that the total amount spent, excluding pensions and gratuities, is equivalent to D2, 905 million. He noted that over 90 per cent of the proposed supplementary provision of D271 million had been utilised and therefore forms part of the D2, 905 billion. He continued that the total appropriation by the National Assembly for 2008 was equivalent to D3, 143 million. Consequently, he said, the proposed schedule of supplementary appropriation does not mean that the government will spend beyond the initial appropriation for 2008, but that possibility may still exist.

"The reason for the budget line provided in the schedule is to avoid a situation where we would have to quote equivalent savings from the unutilised balances in the budgets of Departments of State and put them in a position, but when they must decide to meet certain obligations, the funds will no longer be available. It is the principal reason for supplementary appropriation bill 2008".

However comments of the lawmakers will come in our subsequent editions.

Meanwhile the Secretary of State for Finance and Economic Affairs is expected to deliver his budget speech on Friday, 19thDecember 2008.