That was the 2017 budget Finance minister Snyder Rini handed down in parliament on Monday.
“Building the nation’s resilience to enhance economic growth and service delivery”, is the theme of the budget.
Mr Rini said it is a responsible, credible and sustainable budget that will help build the resilience we need to enhance growth and to deliver services more efficiently in our country.
Furthermore, he said:
“It is a balanced budget, fiscally responsible and visionary in its scope and framework.”
Nice words to describe the budget and convince the people.
But will the people convince with the $4.1 billion budget?
In the last two financial years, Mr Rini also delivered two budgets in the billion dollar marks.
In 2015, he brought to parliament a $4.25 billion budget, while the 2016 budget was a whopping $4.4 billion.
So in the last two years, the government had expended $8.6 billion.
How much of that money translates into tangible projects that bring changes to lives of the people?
- Across the country, including Honiara, roads are poorly maintained and in their worst of states.
- There were no new schools or clinics to cater for the growing population. The new schools and clinics were area seeing are funded by donors instead.
- There were no mayor development projects in the rural areas. This is despite the millions of dollars allocated in the last two budgets in the name of “rural development”.
- The majority of people in the rural areas are still using the bus and their beaches as their toilets. There’s an apparent lack of proper sanitation and water supply across the country.
- Unemployment has remained as high as ever. Youths leaving the villages to come to Honiara in search of jobs found themselves unemployed. They became burdens to their working relatives.
- There’s an apparent lack of political will to drive the nation forward. What we see instead is politicians fighting over positions and what’s in the “budget for them”.
So for the man on the street, the $4.1 billion is no news to him. It’s just music to the ear.
The challenge for this Government is to translate the budget it laid on the floor of parliament into real development.
To the man in the village, a budget, no matter how big and balanced it is, is just that – a budget.
It’s nothing to him unless he sees the government build his village a new water supply project or upgrade the road that he uses daily.
This Government has nothing or very little to show for in terms of the $8.6 billion budget it delivered in the last two years.
So what’s up for the people in this latest $4.1 billion budget?
That’s the question Mr Rini and this government will have to bear in mind while implementing the 2017 budget.