OPPOSITION Leader Hon Matthew Wale says the 2022 Budget looks good on paper but lacks the political will and inadequate funds allocated to drive important investment programs.
Speaking during the 2022 Budget Debate in Parliament today, the Opposition Leader said the government is trying to do too much yet it is not reflected in the 2022 budget.
Hon Wale said the Budget also reflects that the technical capacities of ministries will be a significant constraint on government’s ability to deliver the desired outcomes.
He said the need to attract and retain qualified technical personnel requires the establishment of a professional cadre within the public service that is competitive with the private sector in terms of remunerations.
“Tight government cash flows will also be a challenge to budget execution and outcomes. I am also quite concerned about the quality of government expenditure from this budget. These are not new challenges, unfortunately. They require political will to change. I look forward to the day, that change will come,” he said.
The Opposition Leader also outlined risks pertaining to the 2022 Budget.
Firstly, he said omicron represents a risk to the budget.
Hon Wale said it is more transmissible than delta and may result in higher numbers of people getting infected.
He said this would include a higher number of people with comorbidities, which in turn would result in higher hospitalizations and death.
Secondly, the Opposition Leader said cash flow constraints have become a recurring theme in budget execution over the past few years.
He said Government cash buffers are almost always inadequate to sustain a timely implementation of critical projects.
“The result is often partially implemented projects that if left unfunded too long become a waste of resources,” he said.
Thirdly, Hon Wale said MOFT is yet to have a complete list of contractual obligations from all ministries that will be met in 2022.
He said some of these are likely to be arrears from prior years that are likely to cause shortfalls in budgeted allocations, thus affecting activities in 2022.
“This may lead to arrears building up for next year,” Hon Wale said.
Fourthly, inadequate regular project evaluation and monitoring often result in skewed expenditure priorities that do not reflect government’s policy priorities.
He said lack of discipline would result in additional demands requiring a supplementary budget later in the year.
“Unmatched with additional revenue, this has the capacity to undermine the budget. This is an annual ritual unfortunately,” he said.
Lastly, the Opposition Leader said inefficient procurement processes might lead to projects not being commenced on time, affecting government priorities.
“Inefficient recruitment processes for implementing ministries may retard their execution rates. Funds are likely to be spent, but outcomes do not reflect the expenditure. This too, unfortunately, is a recurring theme,” he said.