Assembly approves budget allocations for more entities under Ministry of Finance, National Planning & Trade |03 December 2022
The National Assembly continued in committee stage yesterday to deliberate on the Appropriation Bill 2023 to consider and approve budget allocations for more entities under the Ministry of Finance, National Planning and Trade.
Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU)
The first budget to be approved by the members was that for the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) for a sum of R25.8 million, an increase of R6.7million (35%) on the budget for 2022 which stood at R19.064 million. The budget was approved by twenty-five votes for with zero abstention and no one against.
The core function of FIU is to safeguard the financial system through adherence to international best practices in its duty to deter, detect and disrupt domestic and international money-laundering, terrorism financing and proliferation financing through ensuring regulatory compliance, the development of high-quality intelligence reports and the enhancement of domestic and international cooperation. It is also responsible for the Beneficial ownership programme to regulate individual or group of individuals who, either directly or indirectly, has the power to vote or influence the transaction decisions regarding a specific security, such as shares in a company.
In his introduction on the budget, the Minister for Finance, National Planning and Trade, Naadir Hassan, said that from the sum of R25.8 million allocated, R15.7 million will go towards payment of salaries while R10.1 million for goods and services.
He noted that the unit will in 2023 continue to work to finalise its National Risk Assessment with regard to money-laundering and terrorism financing, raise awareness and improvement of the Beneficial Ownership framework to better collect information from stakeholders, including developing legal frameworks to assist non-governmental organisations and risks associated with virtual assets, among others, to combat financial and terrorism crimes.
Minister Hassan added that FIU will put much of its resources to prevent money-laundering and to encourage entities to function in line with the law to protect the image of the country internationally.
The unit will also engage in staff capacity building and will also purchase new technologies for better communication and information gathering with the local and international partners.
Minister Hassan was accompanied by the secretary of state and the principal secretary for Finance Patrick Payet and the controller general, Astride Tamatave, the chief executive of FIU, Richard Rampal, the deputy chief executive Debra Port-Louis and the unit’s finance manager Wilna Azemia.
Following the approval of the FIU budget and the exclusion of Mr Rampal and his two colleagues, Minister Hassan and the rest of the delegation was joined by Jude Commetant, the deputy controller general, for the rest of the deliberations until in the afternoon.
Goods and Services
Elaborating on the sum of R131,669,000 allocated under Goods and Services, SS Payet said that R102.1 million is for cleaning services, R20.5 million for professional and consultancy, R5 million for the National Day celebrations and R3 million for unforseen visit while R1 million is for advertising and publicity.
25 members voted for the budget with zero abstention and zero votes against.
Social programme of Central Government
On the R298,200,000 for the Social programme of Central Government, SS Payet said that it is for the special pension payment programme, the SME scheme, the housing finance scheme, among other schemes, which will also include the newly introduced education loan scheme. 28 members voted in favour of the budget with zero abstention and zero votes against.
Elaborating on the sum of R10 million under Others, SS Payet stated that the money is mainly to pay for capital subscriptions for insurance of new shares in the World Bank and the African Development Bank. He said that the World Bank loaned our country R15 million in 2020, R35 million in 2021 and we are expecting R25 million for this year and R15 million for 2023 (total R90 million). As with the African Development Bank, it loaned the country R10 million in 2020, R20 million in 2021 and we are expecting R25 million by end of December and R20 million in 2023 (total R75 million). The budget was approved by 28 members with zero abstention and no vote against.
With regard to Contingency, SS Payet said that the R50 million allocated is for the payment of compensation to residents at Baie St Anne Praslin affected by pollution from the Public Utilities Corporation (PUC) electricity generator and also for payment of compensation to workers at the department of Culture, the department of Health and at the Ministry of Education affected by fungus.
He added that payment of these compensations is anticipated to be made in the first quarter of 2023.
He noted that compensation for the water pollution at La Misère will be in the 2024 budget where a sum of R38.8 million has been allocated. The Contingency budget was approved by 25 votes, with zero abstention and zero vote against.
SS Payet said that the R10 million under the Tax Exemption, of which R5 million is for Customs Duty exemption and R5 million for Value Added Tax (VAT) exemption, is the only provision to pay for grant exemptions in the event of such exemptions being outlined in the agreement. 24 members voted for the allocated budget with zero abstention and no vote against.
A sum of R265,2228,000 has been allocated under the Net Lending of which the majority of the lending fund, from government and foreign partners, will go to three of the Public Utilities Corporation’s (PUC) projects, namely the 33 KV network re-enforcement project in South Mahé, the La Gogue Dam and the water sanitation Neptune project, being sponsored by both government and foreign partners. 27 members voted for the allocation with zero abstention and zero vote against.
Development grants to public enterprises
In his explanation, SS Payet said that R148,661,000 allocated in the budget is for projects for the Seychelles Public Transport Corporation (SPTC) among which will include the purchase of 59 buses from India. It will also cater for the Property Management Corporation (PMC) to pay off a loan to the Seychelles Pension Fund and Nouvobanq, among other development projects that it will carry out in 2023. Part of the allocation will also be used by PUC for its local capital investment. The budget was approved by 24 members while three members abstained from voting and no one voted against.
Subvention to Public Enterprises
The R44,930,000 allocated under the Subvention to Public Enterprises is to cater for subventions for the Seychelles Postal Services (R6 million), SPTC (R36.9 million) and The Guy Morel Institute (R2 million). SS Payet noted that for SPTC, it is to cater for the workers special, disability and retired pensioner’s bus fare programme at R28.8 while R8.1 million is to cover for operational deficit. As for The Guy Morel Institute, the money will be used to provide Result-Based Management (RBM) trainings, among other trainings, to public services officers. Twenty-six members voted to approve the budget, while one member abstained from the vote. No member voted against the budget.
After the third reading of the Appropriation bill 2023 after the National Assembly had reconvened into its normal session following its engagement in committee stage, nineteen members voted for the bill, with zero abstention, while nine members from the opposition abstained from voting.
Minister Hassan took the opportunity to thank the staff from his ministry for working tirelessly to produce the budget for 2023 and the members of the National Assembly for the deliberations and contributions.