March 24 is budget day

Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh, will present this year’s budget in the National Assembly on Monday, March 24.

A release from the Ministry of Finance last night said “It is expected that this year’s budget will continue to promote the PPP/C’s commitment to accelerate economic growth and social development.

It will emphasize macroeconomic stability through the continued creation of investment opportunities, expanding and upgrading physical infrastructure, improving the quality of social services, and strengthening institutional and regulatory environments”.

The statement said that this year’s budget presentation will be the eighth by Singh, having first presented in 2007 following his appointment as Finance Minister in September 2006.

There is great uncertainty over the fate of this year’s budget. The last two were slashed by the opposition in Parliament but a controversial ruling by Chief Justice Ian Chang said that the opposition did not have this power.

The opposition is adamant however that it will vote against line items this year that it disagrees with and force the Finance Minister to amend his own estimates.

Despite the cuts made by the opposition to the last two budgets, analysts say that there was little or no impact on the government programmes and departments which were targeted.

There were no productive consultations among the political parties this year on the budget as the opposition charged that the Finance Minister did not comply with commitments. The Finance Minister had said he remained open to talks with the opposition.

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