By: Kebba AF Touray
The Finance and Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly (FPAC) has recommended to plenary to reducing the country’s budget deficit of D2.2 billion.
This recommendation of the committee was disclosed by the Vice Chairperson of the committee, Alhagie Mbowe, while laying the committee’s consolidated report on the findings on the budget of the entities within its remit.
Mbowe also told the national assembly that other committees also engaged the officials of their relevant committees with the purview of those committees, as mandated upon them by standing orders 81(1) and 84(1) and (2).
“In scrutinizing the various budget agencies, FPAC considered reducing the budget deficit of D2.2 billion. Thus, the allocations for Ministries, Agencies and Departments dubbed MDAs, were either maintained as presented in the estimates or reduced and reallocated as and when necessary,” he said.
Mbowe informed the assembly that FPAC alone deducted D77, 950 from the budget of the judiciary, national audit office, finance ministry, justice and fisheries and water resources ministries. He said D5 million was also deducted from the budget of the President’s Office and the sum was reallocated to the Office of the Vice President under the social safety net project as the government’s contribution.
“The budget for the Independent Electoral Commission was adopted as submitted. D20 million was deducted from the National Audit Office. There was no reduction in the budget of the Defense Ministry. However, the committee recommends the augmentation of the operations budget of the Gambia Armed Forces,” he said.
He said the standing committee on human rights recommended D1, 400,000 million to be reallocated to for the purchase of a vehicle for one of its commissioners and the directorate of legal and investigative unit.
“The agriculture committee recommended the allocation of an extra D25 million for the five sub vented institutions under the ministry, whereas the monitoring committee approves the submission of the Ministry of Transport, as per the estimates,” he explained.
He further told the assembly that the committee recommended the allocation of additional D185 million to the budget for the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education.
“The committee recommends an extra D18 million be allocated to the budget for the information ministry. It also recommends the augmentation of the higher education ministry’s budget to cater for its D110 million deficit,” he said.
Mbowe told the plenary that the committee recommended the allocation of D7 million to the petroleum ministry for the construction of a new complex for the geological department.
He also said the government continues to operate with a budget deficit and emphasized FPAC’s commitment to take all necessary measures to reduce the budget deficit, without incapacitating the MDAs, made the following recommendations that;
Moving forward, all the Ministries with sub vented institutions under their purview should clearly indicate these in their budget estimates
Finance Ministry to inform ministries of any changes made on their budget after each sectorial bilateral
The budget deficit should be maintained regardless of any recommendation for increment.
That the recommendations of various committees be considered for endorsement where feasible.
Moving forward, Finance Ministry should consider separating Office of the President and Office of the Vice President as two budget entities.