On the fifth day of the Parliament plenary sessions today it was only discussed the Budget for the Ministry of Finance with the attendance of the Prime Minister and the members of government.
Ministry of Finance
6 proposals were presented in relation with the Directorate General of Corporate Services (DGCS), such as N. 58, N. 59, N 60, N 60, N. 61, N 62 and N 63.
Proposal N. 58 by Antonino Bianco proposed a reduction of $838,000 out of $949,000, so the remaining budget is only $116,000. Proponents justified that this budget is too much, bearing in mind that in last year budget only $116,000 was enough to execute ministry’s activities relating to “other services” item from the Good and Services category, which totals $9,925,000.
Responding to the proposal’s justification, Minister of Finance first explained the structure of the ministry that comprises of 4 directorates general, including corporate services, and one directorate for Aid Effectiveness, and one Secretariat for g7+. Minister Pires said that she did not accept the proposal because the evolving reforms programs which inherently imply growing needs of the ministry, the role of DGCS is the key to ensure that the ministry’s bureaucracy machine is working properly, as well as to support certain government activities.
The proposal was voted and not approved: in favor 18, against 34, and abstain.
Proposal N. 59, by Antonino Bianco and colleagues, also proposed a reduction of budget in the item of G&S, category of Operational expenditures, in the amount of $515,000, out of $1,182,000, to only $667,000. Proponents justified that last year budget was only $667,000 and there is no information on how and what this budget was used for.
Minister explained that this budget is extremely necessary to cover expenses for: workshops, training for the MOF staff as well as for line ministries staff and for the districts staff in the area of procurement, Free Balance, language training, recruitment, statistics household survey, elderly subsidy payment in districts, etc.
The proposal was voted and disapproved; in favor 18, against 34, and abstain 3.
Proposal N. 60, regarding vehicles maintenance, proposed a reduction of $176,000, from $359,000, leaving only $183,000. Proponents justified that over the past two consecutive years, many cars have been purchased by MOF with $183,000, so this amount should be enough for vehicles maintenance.
Minister responded that the MOF has 131 vehicles and has more than 900 staff. This budget is intended for routine maintenance, in order to prevent from major repairs that would absorb lots of money. These vehicles are used for a series of activities as explained above: subsidy of elderly payment in districts, monitoring, training of districts staff, surveys, SFFF (Sensus Fo Fila Fali) project, and project monitoring.
The proposal was voted and not approved: in favor 18, against 33, and abstain 4.
Proposal N. 61, by Antonino proposed a reduction on overseas travelling from $562,000 minus $400,000, to only $162,000. Proponents justified that in 2011 only $65,000 was enough to finance this item, therefore the additional budget of $497,000 is unnecessary.
Minister explained that the budget is used for a number of overseas travelling purposes like training, various types of conferences, trade statistics, as well as for monitoring of 65 students in Australia, Indonesia and India.
The Proposal was voted and not approved: in favor 19, against 33, and abstain 3.
Proposal N. 62, by Antonino Bianco, which proposed elimination of budget for purchase of vehicles, from $271,000 to 0. Proponents justified that too many cars have been purchased by government including Ministry of Finance which used $590,000 for purchase of vehicles.
Minister responded that out of 131 vehicles, 61 cars are new, and 25 are old, which have to be replaced or auctioned, otherwise lots of money for maintenance have to be spent. Therefore the government policy is to auction or replace the old vehicles with new ones that have achieved 5 years or more, in order to save money.
The proposal was voted and not approved by parliament, in favor 18, against 31 and abstain 0.
Proposal N. 63, regarding local travels, which proposed to reduce $892,000, from $902,000, remaining only $10,000. Proponents queried that this amount is too big for local travels.
Minister responded that this money is used for monitoring, payment of elderly subsidy throughout territory, routine inspection, etc.
The proposal was voted and not approved by parliament, in favor 18, against 32, abstain 5.
Finally the Budget for the Ministry of Finance was voted and approved by the parliament: in favor 32, against 6, and abstain 4.
Dotacao Todo o Governo (under the control and management of Ministry of Finance)
There are 5 proposals, such as N. 93, n. 23 and n.65, n. 30, and n. 26.
Proposal N. 93 by Arao Noe, which proposed to create a new budget in the amount of $250,000, for office renting for ex-titulares (former heads of state organs). The proponents clarified that this budget is created to comply with the mandate of decree law n.2/2007 on….it is expected that the offices of these titulares are not used for political parties base but rather for national interest.
The opposition appreciated the idea, but suspected that creation of this item may look a campaign or a cover up tactic to trap certain political parties. Thus they recommended to start thinking of reviewing the law on ex-titulares, given that in the future, it will create burdens for the economy of the country.
Proposal N. 23 by Fernanda Borges proposed to eliminate the capitalization budget for CITL in the amount of $200 M. Similarly other proposal N. 65 by Antonino proposed the elimination of this budget amount of 200 M.
Both proposals justified that: TL does not have any capacity yet to run a strategic company like this, because the lack of human resources capability; there is no feasibility study at this moment for consideration; there is no legal framework ; there is no business plan yet; and that our national companies are still reliant on the government projects, therefore they are not able to bear a huge responsibility to run an investment profit making company. So, better to prepare the resources first before starting it.
PM responded that it is the opportune time now to start up this strategic company to invest our money in creative and futuristic programs, rather than keeping our money in the USA Treasury Bonds with only very low interest rate, since that the USA is now facing enormous financial crisis and devaluation of US dollar against several currencies. CITL is an investment company that will bring economic and social return and off course revenues for our country, in order to gradually reduce our dependency on oil revenues. It will operate in various profitable areas, and specifically investing in submarine fiber optic cables in partnership with foreign investors.
Other proposal N. 30 by Virgilio Marcal proposed to reduce an amount of $ 5 M from $200 M for upgrading of education and health sectors. Virgilio pointed out that these are the top TL development priorities however have had less attention than they deserve.
Other MPs reinforced the proposal that many complaints and reports have said that these areas have been neglected, as such many schools are yet to be constructed, and many are in extremely poor conditions, lack of chairs, lack of water and toilets, and lack of library and other schools facilities which deserve the highest attention from the state. They are the foremost sectors for human resources investment.
Proposal N. 64, by Antonino Bianco and colleagues proposed elimination of the budget allocated for the item $3,000,000 to 0. Proponents said that the appearance of this big budget for “Liberalization of Telecommunications” in last year budget of its governance is not wise. Moreover, the government misplaced this budget in wrong item, in “translation item” which demonstrates the absence of proper plan, thus lack of preparation to properly spend the money, therefore they proposed elimination 0.
Minister of Infrastructure, Pedro Lay explained that as we move approaching the end of TT operation in TL, this budget is highly necessary to prepare various issues in relation with liberalization including: legal framework for interconnection systems , to regulate communications frequency, and to regulate the operators providing service to whole territory including in the remote areas.
PM added that it is now the opportune time for the country to prepare ground for independent telecommunications, learning from experiences with TT and with Manitoba management.
The discussions on “dotacao todo o governo” will continue on next Monday plenary sessions, of 21 November at 9.00.