AS the Government prepares to bring down its 2021 $4 billion-plus budget, a huge ‘mismatch’ appears to exist between the Budget estimates and the Government’s Redirection Policy, a special investigation by Solomon Star has uncovered.
At the same time, our investigation has confirmed what has been suspected all along that figures presented in the budget were rubbery and “misleading.”
The revelation comes at a time when one major donor has reportedly distanced itself from claims that it (the donor) is supporting the government’s development funding.
“Nothing in the Redirection Policy is reflected in the allocations in the estimates in terms of funding the cost of the Redirection Policy. It is a huge mismatch between reality and assumptions,” those in the corridors of power told Solomon Star.
“The government is saying one thing but in reality is doing completely the opposite,” they said.
For example, the DCGA government recently introduced a comprehensive review officially known as the Redirection Policy which is intended to focus on the growth sector of the economy.
“But when you look at the Budget and the Redirection Policy, they have nothing in common. In other words, there is nothing in the Budget estimates to reflect the cost of the Redirection policy. There is a huge mismatch,” they said.
Solomon Star has obtained a Draft Copy of the 96-page Redirection Policy, which outlined key priorities in the different sectors, which the government has identified in its Redirection Policy.
It has divided key priorities into four (4) main sectors – the Fundamental, Social, Resources, and the Productive Sectors.
According to the Draft Redirection Policy, five Ministries have been identified for the Fundamental Reform Sector. They are the Ministry of Finance and Treasury, Ministry of National Planning and Development Coordination, Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs, and the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
In the growth sector, it envisages increased investment in Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, and Tourism.
“The Rollout of the Economic Stimulus Package (ESP) in supporting the agriculture, fisheries, forestry, and tourism is a manifestation of our drive to support (the) growth sector,” the Draft Redirection Policy said.
The government spent $306 million on the ESP, according to leaked Budget Summary papers, which Solomon Star has obtained.
According to the papers, the government expected a $12 million return this year on the ESP payout, a forecast described as “impossible” by economists.
“Even if you invest the entire ESP money buying stocks, it is impossible to get a $12 million return in just 12 months,” they said.
Meanwhile, people in the know have questioned the credibility of figures presented in the 2021 budget estimates.
“These figures lacked credibility as they were not based on any material facts,” one professional accountant told Solomon Star earlier in the week.
“The figures in the estimates should be based on the 2020 Budget Actuals rather than on estimates. The 2020 Actuals should include supplementary budgets that the government introduced during that year.
“The sum total of the 2020 Budget estimates plus supplementary budgets should produce the Actual expenditures for that year. The Actuals should have been the base for framing this year’s Budget estimates,” he said.
“Why are the officials still using the 2020 Estimates to frame the 2021 budget Estimates? It really is misleading and the government has a lot to answer for in terms of adding up the figures.
“As they stand, they are nothing short of misleading the nation. The figures are misleading because they were not based on any material facts such as the Budget Actuals for 2020,” the man said.
By ALFRED SASAKO