Falkland Islands budget principles discussed at Standing Finance Committee
Ahead of the budget round for 2023/24 the Standing Finance Committee (SFC) discussed the principles of the budget, as well as some key considerations and issues.
MLAs discussed in SFC the budget principles expressing views on individual principles, the wording of them, and perceived benefits or challenges with proposals from each MLA.
The Financial Secretary proposed a set of key financial principles which she recommended not be changed under a headline goal “To ensure the long-term financial sustainability of the Falkland Islands.”
Within these individual goals were listed: manage variable income levels; ensure sustainable pension arrangements; no public sector borrowing for operating purposes; maintain a reasonable level of reserves; assess our liabilities and ensure appropriate funding for FIG special funds.
After discussion, and votes on individual principles, the following additional political principles were agreed:
To build resilience and promote resourcefulness in the public service and our economy
To prioritise critical infrastructure investment to support sustainable social and economic development
To enhance quality of life and support improvements to our nation’s health, education and well-being.
To ensure both the delivery of our environmental agenda and environmental impacts are key to budgetary decisions.
To increase transparency, accountability and participation in both the budget and all areas of Government.
Penguin News spoke to MLA Roger Spink, portfolio holder for Corporate Government Services including Treasury, who gave his views on the draft principles
“They are similar to what’s been attempted to be put together in the past. MLAs had a much greater input in putting them together this year, but they are things that we bear in mind while we’re doing the budget.”
MLA Spink emphasised a section in the principles “where it states that operating expenditures can’t continue to rise like they have over the last few years.
“You know, we are reaching a stage where we just can’t keep on increasing the cost of running government, and so we operate within constraints and those budget principles allow us within the group of MLAs [to] prioritise where we’re going to direct spending to.”
MLA Spink continued, elaborating on his operating expenditure concerns.
“We are getting to a stage where we’ve seen this curve of our operating costs increasing and increasing. If you look at the previous budget the projections going forward there is a projection of operating expenditure not increasing if we wish to afford the capital expenditure that we’ve got. So we will be faced with choices.
He added, “if we want to increase the operating expenditure we will have to decrease the amount of capital expenditure or something else, there’s a matter of choices that need to be made.”
In regard to the principle of transparency MLA Spink said “I think people need to realise the constraints under which we will have to operate your budget process. As MLAs we love being able to give money to different projects and different things that we believe in. But we think in that group of eight, when we get together, we will have to share it out in the way that we all agree is the best way of spending that pot of money.