Assembly continues examining budgets of MDAs |22 November 2022
The Office of the President was the first entity whose proposed budget was examined yesterday morning after the Assembly resumed its considerations of budgets for ministries, departments and agencies in committee stage.
Vice President Ahmed Afif was in the National Assembly to defend the budget of the Office of the President as well as other portfolios which fall under the responsibility of the President.
Budget for the Office of the President ‒ R63.314 million
Eighteen National Assembly members yesterday morning voted for while nine abstained and no one voted against to approve the budget of R63.314 million being proposed for the Office of the President for next year.
VP Afif went on to explain that the sum being proposed for the Office of the President for 2023 has been revised from R69.7 million in 2022 to R63.314 million in 2023, a reduction of approximately R7 million.
VP Afif highlighted the four programmes being funded under this budget allocation as follows:
Governance and administration to which R37 million is being allocated, the Office of the President is receiving a sum of R21 million, the Office of the Cabinet a sum of R3.3 million and a sum of R2.3 million is being allocated to the Office of former President Danny Faure.
The vice-president told Assembly members that for the Office of the President itself, the allocation for wages and salaries under this budget has increased from R16.8 million in 2022 to R19.4 million in 2023, while the allocation for goods and services has been reduced by around R5 million from R48.8 million in 2022 to R43.5 million in 2023.
VP Afif explained that this reduction concerns office expenses which in 2022 received R13.6 million but in 2023 will receive R12.1 million. Expenses for transportation have been reduced from R11.9 million to R9.6 million which include expenses for overseas travel. Expenses for maintenance and repairs have also seen a reduction from R6.9 million to R6.1 million.
VP Afif further pointed out that the other key reduction is in the allocation for the capital budget where he noted that in 2022 a sum of R4.1 million was allocated but for 2023 that budget line is receiving only a sum of R400,000 as most of the projects underway are almost completed and will not be carried over into next year.
With regards to the reduction in the transportation allocation, VP Afif said this is because the travel expenses for ministers and chief executives have been transferred to their respective ministries.
When it came to questions and clarifications, United Seychelles (US) member Egbert Aglae queried about the significant increase in the allocation for presidential support and special events which has increased from R16 million to R20 million.
VP Afif explained that the executive office covers a lot of local programmes and visits as well as the president’s participation in international forums and events including the forthcoming African Union Summit in February 2023, Ocean Summit as well as the EU/AU Summit, SADC, Ticad, Comesa among others.
Questions by other MNAs were related to the allocation for the Office of the former President, salaries for constitutional appointees and former cabinet members among different other issues.
Department of defence ‒ R455.238 million
The National Assembly has voted unanimously to support the budget allocation for the department of defence when all 31 members voted for.
VP Afif noted that the allocation of R455.238 million is R111.6 million more than that of 2022 which was R343.6 million.
Present alongside VP Afif to give clarifications and answer MNAs’ questions on specific aspects of this budget head was Brigadier Michael Rosette and Chief of Defence Forces Jean Attala among other officials.
VP Afif informed Assembly members that a large chunk of the increase will be swallowed up by the purchase of a new patrol vessel to be received in 2024 but whose payment will be made in 2023. For wages and salaries its allocation has received R13.9 million which will include a sum of R6.7 million for the 13th month pay, R7.1 million for salary adjustments and a portion has been set aside to recruit 30 new soldiers.
Other questions were related to capacity-building, proposition to have a base on Praslin, the need to have a budget for the national brass band and according to Linyon Demokratik Seselwa (LDS) MNA the members do not know where they stand as they do not have a scheme of service, do not have a place of their own, their uniforms are old as well as their instruments. On this matter VP Afif assured MNAs that the situation of the brass band will be looked into urgently. Fuel cost, uniforms, patrols were among numerous other pertinent issues discussed.
Department of information and communication technology (including the new authority ‘Seychelles Communication Regulatory Authority’) ‒ R72.8 million
During the afternoon session, 27 members voted for, no one voted against and no one abstained thus approving the budget for the department of information and communication technology (DICT).
A budget allocation of R9.3 million for DICT to set up the ‘Seychelles Communication Regulatory Authority’ which is the second entity on whose budget the Assembly members were asked to consider before its establishment, something the opposition completely disagreed on. VP Afif noted that this is an option to avoid asking for a supplementary budget when the law to set up the regulatory authority comes into force.
After a short but heated debate the contentious allocation received 19 votes for, none against and 11 members abstained.
Office of the Public Service Appeals Board ‒ R1.137 million
The allocation was defended by its chairperson, lawyer Brian Julie who detailed to Assembly members the achievements, challenges and forthcoming plan to broaden the Public Service Appeals’ (PSAB) mandate.
Seychelles Intelligence Service ‒ R19.376m
The last entity whose budget allocation was considered and approved yesterday afternoon was the Seychelles Intelligence Service. A total of 21 MNAs voted for the allocation, eight abstained while none voted against.
Alongside VP Afif was the director general of the Seychelles Intelligence Service, Benediste Hoareau.
Today, the Assembly will examine the budgets of the Public Service Bureau and Other Wages & Salaries (Gratuities, Compensation for continuous Service); Office of the Mayor of Victoria; Seychelles National Institute of Culture, Heritage and the Arts; Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation; Information Commission; and the Seychelles Media Commission.