Budget 2020: Gov’t unveils $3.94 billion package to provide services, boost economic growth
Minister of Finance and Treasury, Honorable Harry Kuma today in Parliament unveiled the 2020 National Budget. “The total budget I present to parliament today is $3.94 billion in spending to the provide the services to the people of Solomon Islands and to boost economic growth” said Hon. Kuma.
Speaking in Parliament today, Hon. Kuma revealed the theme of 2020 Budget, “Together, Towards Growing our Economy”. Minister Kuma highlighted that the 2020 budget demonstrates the Government’s strategic commitment to development budget allocation focusing on economic growth of this country. Minister Kuma revealed that the resources and productive sectors allocation will increase to $105.6 million in 2020, this is an increase of 62 per cent or $40 million from $65.1 million in 2019. Infrastructure will increase by 3 per cent to $88 million from $86 million in 2019.
Minister Kuma also revealed in Parliament today that total revenue expected in 2020 is $3.94 billion. This include the domestically sourced revenue from the Inland Revenue Division is estimated at $2,048 million, Customs and Excise estimates at $976 million and Other Ministries $546 million. The Government is able to secure $371 million from external sources to balance the budget, according to Minister Kuma.
In anticipation to the reduction in receipts from logging and other risks that may have impact to government finances, the Minister also announced key policy measures which include goods tax and import duties amendments, as well as implementations of key non-tax revenue measures. This measure include strategies to collect land rent arrears which accumulated since 2013, to increase gaming tax rate from 5 per cent to 15 per cent in 2020, and to effect capping of any discretionary exemption at 50 %.
Furthermore, on his 2020 Budget Speech, the Minister of Finance also confirmed the government commitment to progress in 2020 major investment projects. These include the Tina River Hydro Project, the Submarine Cable Project, the upgrade of the Henderson International Airport Project, the Urban Water and Sanitation Project, the Domestic Airport Upgrade Project, the Bina Harbor Project, the operationalization of the Development Bank of Solomon Islands, and the 2023 South Pacific Game.
There are critical reforms that were announced by the Minister today as well. These include the Government commitment to progress the Tax reform, the Mining Legislation reform, the Traditional Governance reform, and the review of the constituency Development Fund Act and its Regulations.
It was also revealed that the Government will also continue to strongly advocate for good governance and these are manifested in the on-going effort to establishing and operationalizing the Anti-Corruption Commission and also the effort to review other legislations such as the Political Party Integrity Legislation and the Electoral Act. These are planned to be progressed in 2020, according to Mr. Kuma.
On his concluding statement, Minister Kuma encourages the both side of the House to continue to work together to support Government’s machinery and ensure that we collectively continue to improve on the usage of our scarce resources and target them effectively and efficiently to diversify our sources of growth.