Thursday, September 21, 2017

Supplementary Union budget downsized after parlimentary committee trimming

Parliament has shaved millions off of the Union government’s additional funding request for the 2016-17 financial year.

The Pyidaungsu Hluttaw’s Public Accounts Joint Committee announced yesterday that the amount has been reduced by 1.2 percent.

Around K15.7 billion (US$12 million) has been cut from the supplementary budget request of K1.35 trillion after analysis, Pyithu Hluttaw lawmaker and Public Accounts Joint Committee member U Aung Min said yesterday.

U Aung Min (NLD; Zalun) stressed that the committee had met with the relevant government departments before making its cuts.

The Ministry of Home Affairs was the biggest loser, dropping K9 billion of the proposed K36.9 billion in additional funding. The Ministry of Construction lost K2.6 billion while the Nay Pyi Taw City Development Committee’s proposed additional budget was chopped by K1.6 billion. The Foreign Ministry’s proposal was reduced by K1 billion and both the Ministry of Border Affairs and Ministry of Transportation and Communication were reduced by more than K550 million. The Ministry of Education’s funding request was reduced by K246 million because a proposed library, planned for the Technological University in Mandalay, was cancelled.

For the capital budgets, which incurred the majority of the slashing, reports only identified the prioritised tasks, which are to be performed during the fiscal year. It is not yet known how exactly these additional capital budgets would be used.

There has been no reported cut to the Ministry of Defense’s request for an additional K96.9 billion in funding.

U Aung Min said the committee decided that funding for projects that would likely not be implemented this fiscal year should be submitted for consideration in the next budget.

Transparency and accountability should be accepted along with any funding that is allocated to an agency, he said.

“This will require the media and the public to track the use of taxpayer money to implement projects,” he said.

The Union government’s total revenue is K17 trillion while its expenditures total K21.3 trillion, bringing the deficit to more than K4 trillion.

The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) was recently revised to K81.1 trillion from K84.1 trillion due to knock-on effects from natural disasters and a reduction in export business.

While it was previously assumed that the deficit would be about 3.91pc of GDP, that has been revised to 4.97pc.

The committee’s report is only a list of recommendations. The hluttaw will make final decisions.

Translation by Win Thaw Tar and Emoon