FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 12/7/2017
The Citizens’ Constitutional Forum (CCF) is urging the government of the day to uphold the ethos of good governance in the wake of the presentation of the 2017-2018 National Budget.
“Since national budgets are one of the most important policy components of government, it is imperative that the State must adhere to good governance requirements in order to effectively implement the budget,” said Mr. Bulutani Mataitawakilai, the Chief Executive Officer of CCF.
Mr. Mataitawakilai said that the allocation of $500,000 towards the Accountability and Transparency Commission is welcomed, as it was long overdue. Notably the increase in the budgetary allocation for FHRADC and Legal Aid are positive steps by the government, hopefully it translates into the protection and promotion of core human rights values. On the other hand, it is disappointing to note that nothing has been highlighted on the Local Government elections since the government came into office in 2014.
The 2017-2018 National Budget is essentially a consumption-driven budget which is a testimony of a developing economy like Fiji. The large increases to the social sectors of our economy such as health, education, social welfare, the sugar industry, expansion of income threshold and civil service salaries will no doubt garner positive vibes.
We urge government to ensure implementation planning, transparency and accountability mechanisms are enhanced,” said the CEO. The distribution of budgetary allocations to various ministries and beneficiaries should be timely. For instance the Fiji National Council for Disabled Persons received their 2016-2017 budget allocation in March 2017, three months before the end of fiscal year. In addition, Ministry of Health came under scrutiny by the Public Accounts Committee in June 2017 for not spending thirty million dollars allocated for capital projects as highlighted in the 2015 Auditor General’s report.
The last Open Budget Survey (OBS) by the International Budget Partnership in 2015 did not augur a positive rating for Fiji. This is an opportune time for Government to deliver the timely furnishing of eight key budget documents to meet the international benchmarks that will improve its chances of a better ranking in the current phase of the global survey.