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#434358 - 03/29/12 02:41 PM Budget presentation delayed
Marty Offline

Artemio Osorio

There are only few examples when budgets have been delayed. The last time it happened was in 2008 when the U.D.P. assumed office after ten years of P.U.P. rule. After the recent March seventh elections, the PM announced that the 2012 budget would be late even though budget preparations normally begin in October to be presented, debated and passed in time for the new financial year that begins on April first. One theory is that the PM is hoping for a successful re-negotiation of the super bond. There are only three days left for the end of this fiscal year and the budget presentation will not be made until mid-July. So how will the affairs of the country be managed without a financial plan? According to the Ministry of Finance, monthly expenditures will be drawn from consolidated funds for the first quarter of the fiscal year under provisions made within the Finance and Audit Act. The increase in ministerial portfolios will also be taken into consideration at the time of the budget approval. Budget Director in the Ministry of Finance, Artemio Osorio, says that while there will be a natural increase in annual expenditure, no new taxes are expected.

 

Artemio Osorio, Budget Director, Ministry of Finance

“On account of the elections that happened in March 2012 the budget has had to be delayed until about four months. The provisions are made in the Finance and Audit Act for the minister to issue a warrant that would permit the government to continue spending from the consolidated funds for the four months, April to July. In July we expect that the budget will be presented and debated in the House [of Representatives] for it to come into effect in August 2012. We have the Finance and Audit Act. Section Four of the [Finance] and Audit Act specifically states that when the time that the financial year begins and there has not been an appropriation bill the Minister of Finance by warrant may issue, you know, the authority for expenditure to go on. So what happens is [that] we are allocating enough funds for the four months. We’re taking it on a monthly basis of what was approved in the last fiscal year. So we’re taking four months of what we spent last year so that should be able to cover the expenditure for the four months. And this would be considered an advance of what would be formally approved when the budget is finally approved.”

Channel 5


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#434359 - 03/29/12 02:42 PM Re: Budget presentation delayed [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

But what will be in the budget?

So what is in store in the budget? There is some new and some rehashing of projects. Osorio also told News Five that the construction of a new bridge at the Macal River adjoining the twin towns of Santa Elena and San Ignacio, is contemplated as is the completion of the Kendal Bridge. Equally impactful is Belize’s external debt, particularly the Super Bond payments, which makes up twenty percent of the budget.

 

Artemio Osorio, Budget Director, Ministry of Finance

Artemio Osorio

“Since there are [certain changes], the realignment of ministries, that has happened, so there are some other ministries that came into stream now. So the size of the House of Representatives has also grown and there’s a different configuration of who are ministers, ministers of state, representatives, senators, everybody. So that would require that the draft budget that we had already prepared be realigned to take into effect these new changes. We have requested from all the ministries that they submit a revised submission that will be looked upon and that will also be debated and we expect, as I said before, that it would come into effect sometime around July or August. There are the normal increases in increments for public servants. There are new projects that come along and that we expect new projects to come on stream so it is in the same area and we expect some new projects to begin and some other projects to finish. We have the Jalacte Road for example that we expect to finish in this new financial year. We have the bridge, the Kendall Bridge and we also have some other bridges that will begin, the Macal Bridge for the San Ignacio/Santa Elena Towns. Those will begin so the budget will be a little larger, every year we expect a little increment because of inflation and also for increments to be granted and so we expect it to be a little more. We expect no new taxes. The government has not announced any new taxes so we’re working with what we have the regular revenue that we expect and the expenditure, we try to keep the expenditure within a deficit of two percent of GDP, you know, to be able to keep our credit worthiness. The budget for the interest payments is around a hundred and eight million dollars, including the Super Bond and when we also add the principal amount that is also being paid it becomes a hundred and ninety million dollars annually. So that is roughly about twenty percent of the budget that must be allocated to meet the debt.”

Channel 5


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