The Papua New Guinea Fiscal Responsibility Act (“FRA”) [sections 2(3) and 2(4)(c)] requires that a Budget outcome report for the previous year is to be released to the public by 31 March each year. That date set by law has come and gone over 30 days ago but still there is no 2021 Budget outcome report. – Kessy Sawang.
The Papua New Guinea Fiscal Responsibility Act Overlooked By Current Government
by Kessy Sawang
Parliament, one of three arms of Government, has a crucial role in providing oversight of Executive Government.
The final session of this Parliament’s term had gushing self-reviews of the achievements of the current government. What was noticeably absent was the opportunity for Parliament to look at the management of public finances in 2021.
We had a nice report from the Treasurer about his outstanding achievements and I think we can allow him to gloat about his and the Government’s achievements.
But the people of Papua New Guinea, especially through their elected representatives, want is the statutory reports dictated by our laws and not merely political speeches. More important is the substance over the style.
The Papua New Guinea Fiscal Responsibility Act (“FRA”) [sections 2(3) and 2(4)(c)] requires that a Budget outcome report for the previous year is to be released to the public by 31 March each year. That date set by law has come and gone over 30 days ago but still there is no 2021 Budget outcome report.
The 2021 Budget outcome report must detail (section 15 of the FRA):
• revenue, expenditure, deficit and borrowings made by the Government in 2021;
• show and explain any major variations between the revenue and expenditure budgets approved by Parliament and the outcome;
• show the difference between the budget deficit presented to and approved by Parliament and explain the causes of this;
• explain what borrowings were undertaken to fund the budget deficit; and
• show the National Government’s debt position.
Why hasn’t the Final Budget Outturn report been released? What are you hiding Mr. Treasurer? Do the facts match your rhetoric?
It is a concern that the delayed release is an established pattern with the Treasurer. Last year the 2020 FBO was released in July. In 2020, the 2019 FBO was released in June.
The people of Papua New Guinea go to the polls shortly and they need to understand what the financial position of our National Budget and what challenges will need to be addressed by the new Government. They should be able to make informed choices about parties and candidates on the basis of their demonstrated performance and/or on their election platforms.
Hon. Ian Ling-Stuckey has spoken forcefully about accountability and transparency for government and its dealings with public monies. He has delivered some important improvements with the budget structure, implementation and its financing but he has fallen short of the standards he likes to hold others to.
I call upon the Treasurer and the Government to immediately release the 2021 Final Budget Outcome report.