19 Nov 2003

Education and health will benefit the most from the new Solomons budget

4:58 pm on 19 November 2003

Education, health and provincial affairs are big winners in the Solomon Islands new Budget released today.

In its first budget under the Regional Assistance Mission, or Ramsi, the Finance Minister, Francis Zama, says total government revenue will rise 36 percent next year to almost 480 million Solomon Islands dollars.

Of this, domestically sourced revenue is up 7 percent to 362 million dollars, and Australia and New Zealand have provided almost 118 million dollars.

Budget allocations are up 42 percent on this year, with education up 115 percent to 134 million dollars; health up 76 percent to 70 million; and the provinces up 26 percent to 30 million dollars.

The Auditor-General receives a major boost to improve governance and accountability.

Mr Zama says stability has been sought, by maintaining essential services and by increasing revenue through greater compliance with tax and custom laws.

The Budget rules out a public sector pay increase, saying the Government recognises it would be a grave mistake to ease back on fiscal tightening.

The government says it will seek extra donor funding this week in order to carry out public sector redundancy, retirement and reform.