The Maldives government has submitted to the parliament its projected state budget of MVR 26 billion for the year 2017.
Mihaaru understands that the finance ministry submitted the state budget, which falls short of MVR 1 billion from the budget allocated for this year, to the parliament on Monday, following which the parliament’s administration officially requested its general committee to determine a date for the budget’s parliamentary debate on Wednesday. However, the budget has not yet been forwarded to the section overseeing the parliamentary agenda.
The Public Finance Act dictates that the state budget must be submitted for parliamentary debate by the end of October every year.
While the government has not officially confirmed the state budget’s submission, finance minister Mohamed Munawar said in response to a message that details will follow when the state budget is sent in for parliamentary debate next week.
Two amendments were made to parliamentary regulations on the state budget last year. The first annulled the clause stating that the parliamentary debate must commence within seven days of submitting the state budget, revising the rule to commence the debate from the day of submission itself. The second amendment annulled the rule that further information regarding the budget can be requested from the finance minister only seven days after submission, instead allowing requests to be made as the parliamentary debate proceeds.
Hence, the debate will commence immediately upon the state budget’s submission to the parliament floor next week.
While the proposed budget is MVR 26 billion according to Mihaaru’s sources, the final amount approved by the parliament may be higher or lower.
The parliament had approved MVR 27.5 billion as the state budget for 2016 with an estimated revenue of MVR 22.8 billion. The government had estimated the deficit for this year would be MVR 3.4 billion, which is 6 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, the deficit is expected to surpass the projected amount as the state revenue by September end was only MVR 10 billion.
While the government has finally submitted next year’s state budget, the parliament has been on hiatus for nearly two weeks. Whereas the administration and government aligned members who control the parliament assert that the hiatus was imposed due to lack of agenda, members of the opposition declare that the hiatus resulted from fear of the government losing the parliament’s majority.