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Solomon Islands Minister for Finance and Treasury (MoFT) Harry Kuma says the government had released SBD$156 million (US$18.9 million) savings to fund and implement the Solomon Islands Government COVID-19 preparedness and response plan.
Kuma revealed the amount in his debate on the motion moves by the prime minister to approve the State of Public Emergency (SoPE) in the parliament Tuesday.
He explained that this was done in accordance with Emergency Powers (COVID-19) Regulations 2020, section 16 (1).
Under the regulation, the prime minister has the power to release the funds for public safety measures amidst the global pandemic which affects the country’s struggling economy.
Kuma also told the parliament that the government had conducted a whole of government reprioritisation exercise and secured the amount in early June.
“The approved savings were derived from 50 percent reduction from all discretionary and non-essential line items in recurrent budget and 15 percent reduction to all ministries development projects except for economic and productive sector,” he explained.
He said during these unprecedented times, the country has to respond in an unprecedented way because so much is required to happen within a short time.
The finance minister also pointed out that with the budget measures taken the government is fully aware that most of its key policy priorities for 2020 will be disrupted for a while.
He further added that all ministries planned activities will also feel the pinch.
“But we have to do this for the sake of the country’s health and to protect the well being of our citizens,” he said.
Despite the current unprecedented fiscal situation, Kuma assured the parliament that the government remains committed to maintaining fiscal stability and discipline.
He made a firm reminded to all ministries not to commit the government into contractual commitments without securing funding and ensure they avoid rolling over arrears into 2021.
Kuma also told the parliament that the government’s goal in 2020 is to protect the health, wellbeing, and livelihoods of our people and to ensure that our economy is not further deteriorate.
Debate on the motion continues in parliament today.
SOURCE: SOLOMON STAR/PACNEWS
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