By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
Parliamentarians approved the 2024 Appropriation Bill on Tuesday 12th December 2023 which included cuts and reallocations to budget lines of various government institutions. According to the Consolidated report of the Finance and Public Accounts Committee (FPAC) “Committees were guided by the resolution adopted by the National Assembly during its pre-budget retreat i.e., to consider reducing the budget deficit of D4.45 billion — and savings made should not be reallocated to sectors”. Unfortunately, this was not reflected in the 2024 Approved Appropriation.
The same report “cautioned not to reduce budget lines that could have a negative impact on the operations of Government”. In the end, cuts totalling over D169 million were made from the 2024 Appropriation Bill and reallocated to various sectors. Had the FPAC Report been followed savings totalling D485 million would have been made.
Some of the more interesting points of the FPAC Report note that the Ministry for Information “did not appear before the Committee to defend its budget. Therefore, the Committee did not review its budget”. Another revelation which may interest readers is Parliament’s recommendation for D10 million from the budget Line of Sporting Material to be used to purchase vehicles for the Hon Minister for Youth and Sports, Permanent Secretary and Deputy Permanent Secretary Technical.
Our budget research shows that the National Debt Service and the Budget Deficit have been closely matched. Unfortunately, for 2024 National Debt Service is set to outpace the Budget Deficit by over 3 billion Dalasis as compared to the biggest difference of D351 million in 2020.
Our comparison of the tabled 2024 Appropriation Bill and the Approved 2024 Appropriation Bill reveals all the cuts and the reallocations made to the various budget entities. The biggest cuts were slashed from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs which was cut over D85 million. However, the FPAC Report only recommended a total reduction of D83.5 million from the Ministry of Finance. This means that the rest of Parliament recommended slightly more cuts to the Ministry of Finance than the FPAC Report.
Three cuts which Parliament has maintained as instructed in the FPAC Report are D4.092 million from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, D1.47 million from the Office of the Ombudsman and D669 thousand from the Ministry of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment.
The second biggest cut was Centralized Services which was cut by D70 million, however, the FPAC Report recommended more cuts to the tune of D220 million. It appears that the rest of Parliament recommended fewer cuts be made to Centralized Services.
Although the FPAC Report recommended cuts to the National Assembly of D15 million and reallocations to priority budget lines, only D5 million was cut from the National Assembly’s Budget. The chart below details all the cuts made on the 2024 Appropriation Bill tabled in Parliament.
The biggest reallocations went to the Judiciary with a walloping D72.2 million. Although the FPAC Report recommended cuts of up to D74.3 million and some reallocations, instead the Judiciary gained a total of D72.2 million in reallocations. The second highest reallocation went to the Ministry of Petroleum which gained a whopping D23 million, however, the FPAC Report recommended for this Budget Line to be approved as submitted.
The third highest reallocation went to the Ministry of Interior which gained a total of D35 million. The FPAC Report recommended that “D3,575,000 be allocated to Arms and Ammunition from the amount that was saved from the Ministry’s budget”.
One Institution which was recommended to be cut over D36.5 million by the FPAC Report but gained D13.9 million is the National Audit Office which features as the fourth highest reallocation. This was followed by the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (D10 million) and the Ministry of Higher Education (D9.9 million).
The Ministry which received the least reallocation is the Independent Electoral Commission which gained an additional D5.6 million even though the FPAC Report Recommended for D48 million to be cut from their Budget.
One of the sectors in which many would have expected a reallocation is the Ministry of Agriculture. Our research shows that the Ministry of Agriculture was not cut or reallocated more funds and the same is true for the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Ministry of Transport, Works and Infrastructure which are amongst 16 institutions that were not cut or reallocated to.
Below is our comparison of the Draft 2024 Appropriation and the Approved 2024 Appropriation passed on Tuesday 12th December 2023.