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National Assembly approves 2020 budget as amended, minus allocation for DICT | 07 December 2019

The National Assembly has approved the budget for 2020 being proposed by government – a sum of R9,230,765,399 as amended after the sum allocated for the Department of Information Technology and Communication (DICT) of R61.323milllion was removed from the original proposed budget of R9,292,088,262.

Members approved the amended budget late yesterday afternoon after they completed more than a week of scrutiny of the different allocations for ministries, departments and entities.

Yesterday, the last day of budget scrutiny in committee stage, members discussed and approved the budget for Fair Trading Commission (FTC) – a sum of R14.938 million which the chief and deputy chief executives of the commission, Francis Lebon and Natalie Edmond, respectively defended.

The Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine Didier Dogley and other officials from his ministry defended the budget for different enterprises that are subsidised through government budget and these included Air Seychelles through an allocation of R159.78 million, Seychelles Postal Services through an allocation of R4 million, and the Seychelles Public Transport (SPTC) through a sum of R50 million. Another budget head which received the Assembly’s approval was a sum of R175.344 million for Social Programmes of government through which different pensions, different non-governmental organisations and the Seychelles News Agency (SNA) are funded.

A sum of R248.176 for Other Wages and Salaries, R130.542 million for Other Goods and Services, R34.936 million under the heading of Others for payment of subscriptions to international organisations, a sum of R176.410 million for Net Lending, R144.453 million for Development Grants to Public Enterprises, R45 million for Contingency, R20 million for Trades Tax Exemption and R15 million for VAT exemption were all approved by Assembly members after little scrutiny.

For the whole day on Thursday different departments and entities that fall under the portfolio of the Ministry of Finance, Trade, Investment and Economic Planning, saw their budget scrutinised before being approved. The first such entity was the Seychelles Revenue Commission (SRC) with a budget allocation of R145,913,000.

Present to defend SRC’s budget were its commissioner general Veronique Herminie, deputy commissioner general Fred Morel, assistant commissioner for tax division Marie-France Franchette, commissioner of the customs division Paul Barrack, director for taxpayers’ education and service delivery Emelyn Camille and accountant Anielle Desaubin.

During the debate over the revenue commission’s budget, the members of parliaments were interested to learn more about the amount of debt that the SRC has yet to collect.

Mrs Herminie detailed that the debt the SRC is yet to collect in January stood at R977 million, of which the SRC was able to collect over R300 million.

Meanwhile, as of September 2019, the debt owed to SRC was R997 million and Mrs Herminie acknowledged that the SRC can only collect R538 million out of this R997 million.

The remaining R400 million is wrapped up in 70 cases worth R128 million that are being objected by the taxpayers, 22 cases worth R260 million that are in the process of prosecution and 13 cases that are presently before the tribunal and which is worth about R39 million.

Around R30 million of debt cannot be collected due to various other reasons such as deaths or liquidisation of companies and assets.

The second entity to appear before the National Assembly on Thursday was the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), represented by its director Richard Rampal.

The FIU’s R27,405,000 budget received unanimous approval from the National Assembly.

Other budget allocations that were approved were for the Seychelles Licensing Authority (R18,62,000), Tax and Customs Agent (R1,627,000), Public Enterprise Monitoring Commission (R8,281,000), Procurement Oversight Unit (R13,761,000), National Tender Board (R4,091,000), Government Audit Committee (R1,107,000), National Bureau of Statistics (R22,471,000) and the Seychelles Investment Board (R9,735,000).

Meanwhile the National Assembly will resume its session on Tuesday where it will start work on several Bills whose first reading was done during Friday’s sitting.

 

Elsie Pointe and Marie-Anne Lepathy

 

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