By: L.N. Reklai
March 16, 2017 (Ngerulmud, Palau) Senate passed on its final reading a proposed FY 2017 Unified Budget of $87,535,675 million dollars. The bill passed with all the House amendments intact. The final amount of proposed budget is $905,675 or 1.04% higher than what President Remengesau had earlier submitted to both houses of OEK.
In his transmittal letters to leaders of both House and Senate in February, President Remengesau cited that the 2017 draft budget bill is 5% lower than 2016 budget. He assumes 8% less revenue coming in 2017 than 2016.
Attributing the decrease to expected delay in construction projects in 2017 as well as continued downturn in tourism, President’s budget proposal estimates 4% to 5% drop in most revenue sources. For hotel room tax and traveler head tax, the estimates are pegged at 16% to 17% decrease based on the expected continued drop in tourism arrivals.
Almost all of the President’s budget requests were approved by OEK with increases in certain budget areas such as budgets for Ministry of Health, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Education, Olbiil era Kelulau budget, State block grants and few other programs.
Some significant changes include 100% increase in Koror State block grant, new budget to fund Xavier High School, new cross over road from Ngardmau to Melekeok, appropriating $500,000 from NCD Fund under RPPL 9-57 toward purchase of Philippine Medical Referral House and to fund Hyperbaric Chamber for the hospital. Other increase is in OEK budget, additional $172,000 for Senate and $200,000 additional for the House of Delegates.
The budget maintains the priority items cited by the President that include subsidy program for electrical power consumption for low income households and appropriation to support Civil Service Pension Plan.
The bill also amends 40 PNC 2603, extending the number of days from 30 to 60 days for Bureau of Revenue, Customs and Taxation to dispose of items confiscated due to unpaid excise tax.
The proposed budget will now be transmitted to the President for his action. [/restrict]