The Budget phases kick off at the National Assembly | 20 February 2021
In the Constitution of the Republic of Seychelles, Article 74 (1) states that ‘Any Bill containing the estimated financial requirements for expenditure in all services of the Government for a current or succeeding financial year shall be known as the Appropriation Bill.’
An Appropriation Bill is also known as a running bill or a supply bill by certain Parliaments and it is a proposed law that authorises the expenditure of government funds. It is a bill that sets money aside for specific spending.
There is however, much more in a national budget than figures and estimates of expenditure. In all countries around the world, the Appropriation Bill is the most
important document put before parliament in the year.
The Budget phase is kicked off each year when the Minister for Finance presents the Budget Address detailing changes to taxation and other measures relating to Government expenditure, offering a comprehensive assessment of the financial standing of the government and giving an overview of the nation’s economic
These measures are detailed in the Budget Report and the Appropriation Bill. There needs to be a budget each fiscal year. The Budget is the government's most important economic policy tool and provides a comprehensive statement of the nation's priorities.
The budget is a critically substantial document in ensuring transparency, accountability, comprehensiveness and good governance.
By providing a detailed description of proposed expenditure, it allows Parliament and the general public to “know where the money goes” and thus increases transparency.
The parliament is the appropriate place to ensure that the Budget best matches
the nation's needs since Parliamentarians are representatives of the people – an ability that is especially critical considering the current challenges to reprioritise between and within departments.
After the Budget Address has been presented, each member presents their response. Traditionally, this process starts with the leader of the opposition and followed by the leader of government business.
Once this is done and the House has approved the general merit of the bill, the House goes into Committee Stage, where the members get the opportunity to scrutinise the proposed budgetary allocation for each institution which receives money from Consolidated Fund. Ministers, principal secretaries and chief executives are questioned on how their respective departments spend money, and at this point it is the responsibility of the respective ministries and agencies to defend their Budget.
The Assembly has the power to cut or freeze any sum from the proposed
The members then vote on the Budget for its approval with any new amendments proposed.
The participation of members of Parliament in the budgeting process is necessary, as it will ensure that national resources are distributed equitably and fairly.
Article 81 (12) of the Standing Orders states that; Debate on every amendment
shall be confined to the sub-head or item to which it relates. After such an amendment has been disposed of, no amendment to or debate on any previous sub-head or item shall be permitted.
Parliament’s responsibility with the budget does not end with its adoption. Its oversight and audit functions should be rigorously enforced after.
As a matter of practice, Parliament should arrange for regular reporting
to Parliament on how the ministries spend the money through the following procedures: departmental annual reports, examination of each appropriation by parliamentary committees, audited annual accounts of each ministry, and independent authority of the Auditor-General to report to Parliament on any matter of expenditure.
Article 158 of the Constitution makes the above clear by stating that;
(5) The Auditor-General shall, within twelve months of the end of the immediately preceding financial year, submit the report referred to in clause (3) to the National Assembly and shall in that report draw attention to irregularities in the accounts audited and to any other matter which in the opinion of the Auditor-General ought to be brought to the notice of the Assembly.
(6) The Finance and Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly shall consider the report of the Auditor General and, for that purpose, may summon before the Committee any person who, in the opinion of the Committee, may assist the Committee in its consideration of the report.
This process is a clear representation of a democratic institution fulfilling important functions and representing the people so the government is held accountable and the vital check and balance is kept.
Contributed by the National Assembly secretariat