This fiscal year’s government budget is set to expire after tomorrow if Senate does not approve Senate bill SB 10-181, SD1, HD1, the Continuing Budget Resolution.
If the budget bill is not approved, the national government will be forced to close during the one of the busiest time for the government, the Independence Day celebration.
Minister Elbuchel Sadang is optimistic that Senate will not allow the government to close when inquired last night.
President Remengesau said that government employees will volunteer their own time to provide services to the people should the government be forced to close. By law, not a single cent of government fund can be expended without budget authorization and appropriation and the current budget authority will end on September 30 unless Senate passes the bill that extends the life of the current budget until the next government comes in and creates its own budget.
After Senate rejected House’s amendment to its budget SB 10-181, SD1, HD1, a conference committee with members from both houses was created to iron out their difference and come up with a budget both houses of OEK could agree to.
Half way through the negotiations, the discussions were derailed when details of their ongoing discussions were publicly aired. House of Delegates rejected all previously negotiated terms and went back to their original version of SB 10-181, SD1, HD1 and refused to budge.
Last week during a national leadership meeting, OEK was entreated to meet and work to resolve their differences before the budget authority expires. After a meeting on Friday reached another impasse, Senate President Baules re-organized the Senate conferee members and Senator Rukebai Inabo became the Chairman of the Senate Conference Committee. Attempts to discuss and change the House position on the budget by the Senate new conferee members had no effect with House insisting on its version of the budget bill.
The Senate now has two options. One, it adopts the version before them, SB 10-181, SD1, HD1 (House preference) which approves Continuing Budget Authority for FY 2021 and prevents government closure or two, vote to reject the bill, which means government closure on October 1st.
If the bill is rejected, President Remengesau will have to resubmit the Continuing Budget bill which will have to go through process of three (3) readings of both houses or submit a new budget for FY 2021, which will go through 3 readings of both houses as well. In the meantime, if such happens, the government will remain close until new budget is enacted.
Senate will hold a session today to act on this budget bill before them.