17 December 2009

Timor-Leste UNDP Parliament Project Flash News

This newsletter focuses on the work developed by both the National Parliament and the Project during the presentation/discussion and approval of the General State Budget for 2010. THE GENERAL STATE BUDGET FOR 2010

The Budget at a Glance

Each year, the Government is required to submit a draft State Budget for the following fiscal year to Parliament by 15 October, in accordance with the provisions of the law on Budget and Financial Management. Once admitted to Parliament, it is distributed to all leaders of party benches, as well as upon request to any MP. The draft State Budget is then formally referred to the Committee of Economy, Finance and Anti-corruption (Committee C) and to all other parliamentary Committees for consideration. Committees, in turn, establish a schedule of hearings with members of the Government as well as any other experts they deem relevant to conducting a comprehensive evaluation within their area of expertise. The resulting reports are then forwarded to Committee C for inclusion in an overall report and assessment of the State Budget, which, once approved by the Committee, is presented to the Plenary.

The discussion of the State Budget begins with an overview provided by the Prime Minister and consists of two rounds of debate: a first round - “in generality” – focuses on the draft Budget as whole, while the second round – “in speciality” - consists of reviewing and debating budget allocations and expenditure ceilings for individual institutions, including state bodies, ministries and independent agencies. The Standing Orders of Parliament provide for a minimum of 3 days for the general debate; the detailed examination of the Budget “in speciality” with the participation of government members is not to exceed 10 days.

Once approved “in specialty,” the Budget is submitted for overall final voting. Responsibility for final wording rests with Committee C.

The State Budget for 2010

19 October General State Budget for 2010 (Draft Law n. 29/II) admitted to Parliament in compliance with the new Budget and Financial Management Law and referred to the 9 Standing Committees for consideration.

26 October through Committees organized a series of public hearings

6 November with Ministers, Secretaries of State, and representatives of civil society; Committee reports submitted to Committee C.

18 November Committee C report approved and presented in Plenary

18 November Presentation of the General State Budget by Prime Minister Gusmão

18-20 November Discussion and approval of State Budget “in generality” with 37 votes in favor, 23 against and 3 abstentions

23 November through Discussion and approval of State Budget “in specialty”. During

3 December the discussion, 70 amendments were proposed, out of which 11 were approved. 7 out of the 11 approved amendments were put forth by the Opposition.

3 December Overall Final Voting: the General state Budget for 2010 was approved with 39 votes in favor, 19 against and 4 abstentions.

New and noteworthy in the 2010 Budget:

· Three “books” of budget documents accompanied the draft Budget:

o Book 1 – contains the executive summary, a gender and culture statement, as well as an overview of revenues, financing and expenditures. The section on expenditures outlines the budget highlights for each ministry.

Book 2 – is a new “book” compared to previous years; it and contains budget estimates per district for each of the 13 districts.

Book 3 – contains the details of the budget estimates, by ministry, by division within the ministry and finally by line items.

· The report of Committee C put forth 20 recommendations, covering a wide range of issues, from an analysis of economic growth forecasts for 2010 to employment, poverty reduction, private sector development, the Petroleum Fund, as well as stronger accountability mechanisms regarding budget execution and implementation. The report benefited from the support of a technical working group consisting of experts from UNDP, UNMIT and the UNDP Parliament Project.

· The detailed examination of the Budget “in specialty” took 8 days out of a maximum of 10 provided for by the Standing Orders.

Budget in numbers

* The General Budget of the State 2010 is $659,996,000.

* The final figure approved by Parliament reflects an increase of $23.127 million, or 3.63 %, compared to the initial proposed budget.

* Capital and Development and Goods and Services have the largest allocations, a combined total of 65%.

* The biggest budget amendment was for the increase of the monthly pension for widows, from $20 to $30 per month.

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