Deadline for submission of mid-year financial reports could be extended

The Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Economic Services is likely to recommend that the National Assembly extends the deadline for the submission of the mid-year financial report by the Finance Ministry.

The suggestion was made in the fifth Periodic Report of the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Economic Services, which was adopted by the National Assembly on Thursday.

Section 67(1) of the Fiscal Management and Accountability (FM&A) Act 2003 states that: “the minister shall present to the National Assembly within sixty days after the end of the first half-year of each fiscal year a report on the year-to-date execution of the annual budget and the prospects for the remainder of that fiscal year.”

However, coming out of the committee’s deliberations, it has been suggested that a recommendation be made to the National Assembly that the FM&A Act be amended to allow for the extension of the deadline for submission to October 9. This would coincide with the end of the parliamentary recess.

According to the report, the committee acknowledged that while the Ministry of Finance had been submitting mid-year financial reports to the National Assembly these have not been tabled in the prescribed time frame.  The committee, however, noted that all the data necessary to compile the mid year report would not be available by the end of June/early July.

This may contribute to its late submission to the National Assembly, this newspaper was told.

The committee suggested that the methodology of data collection may need to be upgraded to facilitate more timely submission of the report. However, it was noted that “certain contributing factors for the projections and risk analysis related to exogenous faces and trends which had also to be taken into account.”

During the debate on the report on Thursday, PNCR-1G MP Winston Murray suggested that it would be more meaningful to have a debate on the mid-year report when it is tabled. This suggestion, he said, took cognizance of the committee’s realization that it was hard pressed for time to meaningfully consider the report prior to the presentation of the next year’s budget.

It was noted by the committee that the reports “could be useful as a guide to show the performance of the economy in major sectors vis-à-vis the plan and projections outlined in the annual budget.

Section 67 (2) of the act states that the mid-year report should  include “an update on the current macroeconomic and fiscal situation, a revised economic outlook for the remainder of the fiscal year, and a statement of the projected impact that these trends are likely to have on the annual budget for the current fiscal year”.

The act further states that this report should include “a comparison report on the out-turned current and capital expenditures and revenues with the estimates originally approved by the National Assembly with explanations of any significant variances”. The report is also supposed to outline “a list of major fiscal risks for the remainder of the fiscal year, together with likely policy responses that the government proposes to take to meet the expected circumstances,” according to the act.

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