BUDGET 2022: Gov’t focused on traditional financing, not oil money without approval – Dr Singh

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Discussions have intensified between the leadership in the government and the various sector heads with an intention to present the 2022 National Budget soonest but there have been new assurances that traditional sources of financing remain the focus.

Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh, who is currently leading budget consultations at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), told the News Room Thursday that there will be no drawing down from the Natural Resource Fund without Parliamentary approval.

The Fund, for which new laws have been put in place to allow withdrawal, currently holds more than US$600 million.

“Currently we are looking at the fiscal framework, alternative sources of revenues, alternative sources of expenditures and financing through traditional sources and the Natural Resource Fund.

“If we are to utilise a withdrawal to finance any part of budget from the Fund, that withdrawal will be subject to prior approval,” the Finance Minister explained.

The traditional source of finance is directly from the Consolidated Fund of which the biggest source comes from taxes. It will also include loans and grants.

Dr. Singh said the Natural Resource Fund Act, which received presidential assent on December 30, 2021, curtailed the possibility of incurring direct expenditures from the Fund without parliamentary approval as was intended by the previous APNU+AFC administration.

“Every single dollar we spend out of the fund will have to get prior parliamentary approval,” the Finance Minister emphasised.

That parliamentary approval will in fact be sought through the budget process where the budget is read, debated and passed line by line in Committee by members of the National Assembly on a vote.

President Irfaan Ali and Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo opened what could be regarded as the final round of consultations on Budget 2022 on Tuesday last which is now being carried on by Dr. Singh and the technical staff at the Ministry of Finance.

“There has been a very high-level policy orientation to the discussion on what the main objectives are and how each ministry and sector will go about achieving those objectives,” Dr. Singh told the News Room.

He assured that the work was focused on having the budget ready as soon as possible but stopped short of offer any dates.

“The budget process is not a short one and I would stop short of giving a date but I’m on making the presentation as soon as possible,” Dr. Singh assured.

Dr. Singh did not disclose the size of the budget, nor would he say whether it would be the biggest budget in the country’s history although that is highly expected.

“I wouldn’t want to spoil your surprise,” the Finance Minister lamented.

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