November 30, 2017
By ISAAC NICHOLAS
The Government has taken steps to centralise the budgetary process by cracking down on some public and statutory bodies collecting public monies and spend these outside of the Budget.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Treasury and Finance Charles Abel said the Government is serious about improving the fiscal health of the country and this bill is a demonstration of that serious intent.
“Public funds that are raised by public and statutory bodies as non-tax revenue rightly belong in the Consolidated Revenue Fund so that they may be appropriated for expenditure by Parliament to meet the objectives of the Government.”
Opposition Leader Patrick Pruaitch interjected claiming that the bill is part of the budget bills and in normal tradition this bill must be passed along with the budget.
“Why are we dealing with Budget Bills separately when the debate on the budget has been adjourned to next week Tuesday? Can we stop sneaking in stuff? We need to be able to understand the bills and it is part of the budget papers. It is attached to the budget bills.”
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill had to intervene to allow Mr Abel to introduce the bill, make his speech and defer the passing to Tuesday next week.
Minister Abel then proceeded saying that for too long, it has been the practice of some public and statutory bodies to retain, without authority, this non tax revenue to meet operational and other expenditures.
“These expenditures have taken place outside the budget process and this is unacceptable to government. Some, but not all, public and statutory do have legislation in place that purportedly allows them to retain this non-profit revenue, but those provisions have always offended against the best principles of public financial management and this Bill remedies those matters.
The Bill binds all public and statutory bodies. State owned Enterprises are excluded as they are not statutory bodies.
The Bill does not apply to the Bougainville or any public or statutory body created by the Bougainville Government.
The Government has decided to explicitly exempt Kumul Consolidated Holdings, Kumul Petroleum Company and the Kumul Minerals Company from this law as fiscal arrangements to them are currently being reviewed.