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$418 million budget to focus on rural development

By Eddie Osifelo HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Feb. 3, 2012) – Parliament has passed the SB$3.1 billion [US$418 million] budget yesterday after much heated debate from both Opposition and Government.

The budget took four days of debating the Minister of Finance and Treasury, Rick Hou’s speech.

Then another four days of committee of supply before it was passed on the floor of Parliament.

At times Speaker of Parliament, Sir Allen Kemakeza had to intervene to make ruling on arguments by member of both sides.

Opposition Leader, Dr. Derek Sikua was also warned by Sir Allen not to use derogative words during the proceeding after expressing his disappointment over some allocations in the budget.

Mr. Hou earlier said it was a rural focused budget with 50 percent of the allocation will go towards developments in the provinces.

He said there was a SB$2.2 million [US$297,000] surplus and will require no additional borrowing by the Government.

"For the second year in a row, the 2012 Budget will be fully funded, ensuring all commitments and contingencies are funded through a combination of domestic revenue and external budget support.

"Domestic revenue growth in 2011 was revised to $2,478.1 million [sic], 10 per cent higher than the original estimates," Finance Minister said.

This Government is committed to funding the following areas in order to meet its key policy priorities:

Rural Development and Other Economic Affairs; General Public Services; Recreation, Culture and Religion; Education; Public Order and Safety; Health; Environment Protection; Housing, Community Amenities and; Social Protection.

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