Seychelles' government to present amended budget due to COVID-19 to National Assembly next week
The National Assembly building. (Joena Meme)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The Seychelles' government will present an amended budget 2020 to the National Assembly next week, after the session on Tuesday was prematurely adjourned.
The opposition majority in the National Assembly voted against the suspension of the standing order for a second reading which would have allowed the finance minister, Maurice Loustau-Lalanne, to present the budget.
The vote was taken after the Leader of Government Business, Charles De Commarmond, presented a motion to suspend the standing order which allows for seven days from the first reading to the second reading.
"The position of the government is that we will wait for seven days which is the required time before second reading. On the order paper of the National Assembly the amendment that we are proposing to the appropriation bill 2020 is still on," Loustau-Lalanne told a press conference.
The amended budget was announced by President Danny Faure on March 20 as part of the government measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean.
"In light of these exceptional times, the government will present a new budget for 2020 on 31 March. Our priorities have changed. I call upon the National Assembly to approve this new budget," the President said.
The Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, Wavel Ramkalawan, said that amending the appropriation act is not the correct way for the government to seek additional fund it needs.
"We are in a situation where it's true that the government is seeking additional funds specifically in relation to the COVID-19. It wants to raise money it doesn't have and which has not been budgeted. In this case, isn't a supplementary appropriation the procedure to use to get the additional fund from the consolidated fund?" asked Ramkalawan.
"This will mean that we can touch specifically the areas in relation to the objectives we want to attain and furthermore it will ensure that this is within our legal procedures," he added.
Loustau-Lalanne said that all legal advice sought showed that amending the appropriation bill 2020 is the best way especially as revenue is also included and these need to be removed from the different heads in the budget.
He added that this will be explained when the budget is presented next week.
"I will turn up at the National Assembly next Tuesday 7th April for me to deliver my budget speech and we can then start discussing the details where I expect there is going to be some important deliberation s with regards to the measures we are proposing," said Loustau-Lalanne.
On the question as to whether the postponement to next week will cause a delay in the budget implementation, he said: "We have an approved budget over 9 billion rupees for 2020 so we will continue to utilise these funds as appropriate and report back to the National Assembly as is required by law."