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Request to extend budget not a supplementary budget: Counsel General

25 August 2019, MVT 16:44
The parliament's budget committee reviews the government's proposal to extend the state budget by MVR 1.7 billion on August 25, 2019. PHOTO: NISHAN ALI / MIHAARU
25 August 2019, MVT 16:44

Counsel General Fathimath Filza declared Sunday that the Ministry of Finance did not submit a supplementary budget to the parliament, but a request to increase the state budget.

Speaking at the budget committee, Filza said that the letter submitted by the finance ministry pertained to documents requesting a state budget extension. She stated that a supplementary budget and documents to increase the budget were separate submissions.

Noting that this was the first time the parliament received a request to extend the budget, Filza stated that parliamentary regulations did not specify any policies to handle such requests or a supplementary budget. She highlighted that the parliament to date has applied the state budget policy for supplementary budget proposals as well.

"As the parliament will be entering recess within a few days, the speaker opted for the quickest policy. He decided to forward the submission to the committee for immediate review, and to grant every lawmaker the opportunity to speak when the committee's report is sent to the parliament floor. He also decided to summon the finance minister to the floor should any members have inquiries", she explained.

According to Filza, this policy could not be deemed a violation of parliamentary regulations. She expressed her stance that it was the best course of action, adding that holding a debate to approve the budget would be considerably time consuming.

Her remarks came after some lawmakers on the budget committee voiced concerns over the decision to send the government's submission directly to the committee for review without holding a debate.

Kudahuvadhoo MP Ahmed Amir pointed out discrepancies between the finance ministry's letter and the documents submitted. He noted that the letter referred to the documents as a budget extension request, while the documents read supplementary budget.

"We see it as a supplementary budget, and the parliament holds debates for all supplementary budgets", he said.

His statement was backed Maavah MP Mohamed Saeed.

The finance ministry is proposing to add MVR 1.7 billion to the state budget. Speaker of Parliament and former president, Mohamed Nasheed, requested lawmakers to review the submission through Sunday as he intended for the parliament to make a decision by Monday night.

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