Finance minister submits US$32m supplementary budget for 2017

Finance minister submits US$32m supplementary budget for 2017
October 24 13:08 2017

Finance Minister Ahmed Munawar submitted to parliament Tuesday an MVR493 million (US$31.9 million) supplementary budget to approve new spending and revenue plans for the last two months of the year.

Guarded by soldiers as opposition lawmakers continued to protest in the chamber, Munawar said spending is expected to exceed projected levels in the 2017 budget and that “a large portion” of income from new revenue-raising measures would not materialise.

“Honourable MPs, neither you nor I would wish for any disruption to services provided to the Maldivian people,” he said.

The new expenditure includes,

  • MVR330 million for the Aasandha health insurance scheme
  • MVR50 million for fuel imports
  • MVR47 million for a school digitalisation project
  • MVR40 million for the Regional Airports agency due to renationalising the Kaadehdhoo airport
  • MVR30 million for purchasing medical supplies and consumables
  • MVR26 million for the Elections Commission to hold seven parliamentary by-elections

Wearing earphones and speaking over the chants of opposition MPs, Munawar also proposed raising MVR268 million from new measures such as amending the revenue stamp law and “closing loopholes in the taxation system to stop tax evasion”.

He urged lawmakers to expedite the necessary legal changes.

According to the finance minister, total revenue in 2017 is expected to reach MVR20.8 billion whilst spending would amount to MVR21.5 billion. With the inclusion of debt repayment and proceeds to the sovereign development fund, the total budget would reach MVR27 billion.

The new estimate for the budget deficit is MVR1.7 billion or 2.3 percent of GDP, well above the projected MVR303.7 million.

The constitution requires parliament’s approval to add supplementary expenditures to the annual state budget. An MVR26.7 billion budget was passed for 2017.

In September, the National Social Protection Agency told the press that it would settle outstanding payments owed to private hospitals, clinics and pharmacies under the Aasandha health insurance scheme. At the time, NSPA also denied rumours that some overseas hospitals have stopped Aasandha services due to late payments.

Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed meanwhile announced that the supplementary budget debate will take place Wednesday.

The supplementary budget was the first such spending plan proposed in recent history.

During today’s brief sitting, an MVR50.5 million budget approved by the public accounts committee for the Auditor General’s office for 2018 was passed with 34 votes in favour from the 85-member house.

The state budget for 2018 is expected to be submitted for approval before parliament breaks for recess at the end of November.

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