Congress hopeful balanced 2011 Budget would curb financial mismanagement
Palikir, Pohnpei (FSM Congress): October 4, 2010 - Speaker Isaac V. Figir and members of the Sixteenth Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia are hopeful that with the National Budget signed into law, the Executive Branch would adhere to the Financial Management Act in Fiscal Year 2011.
President Emanuel 'Manny' Mori submitted a national budget bill of almost $54 million earlier in May and Congress started its work to balance a budget against projected revenues and reports from the various Congressional Committees.
Following month long hearings with national Department, Agencies, Offices and national entities, Congress passed a balanced budget on September 29, 2010, in time for the start of the new fiscal year.
Speaker Figir noted that while Congress preferred to have passed the budget earlier in the month, "it was more important to do our job thoroughly and based on correct information, than simply rubberstamp the bloated budget as submitted by the Executive, a budget which far exceeded the actual revenue projections for the upcoming fiscal year."
Faced with a budget request from the Executive of almost $54 million, and revenue projections of $45.5 million, Congress had its work cut out for them heading into the Fifth Regular Session.
Fortunately, almost $5 million of the request is U.S. Federal Program money, which does not require appropriation by Congress and is typically not part of the final appropriations bill. At the conclusion of hearings and deliberations, Congress passed a budget bill totaling $39,041,803.
A quick review of the appropriations legislation shows spending in the operations budget of the National Government is very similar to fiscal year 2010 levels, notably with a slight increase in national scholarship and aid to non-public schools. Significant cuts from the President's recommended budget appear in line items that have never before existed, such as $1.6 million in "Legislative/Executive Discretionary Funds."
It is very clear in the Standing Committee Reports that Committees were diligent in ensuring that approved budget items had to serve a legitimate purpose of this Nation to be funded.
Before the 2010 fiscal year came to a close, Congress also grudgingly approved yet another supplemental in order for all National Government employees to be paid this past week, despite mismanagement of funds by their supervisors and violations of the Financial Management Act by the Administration.
Congress members made it clear by their comments on the floor that they did not want to be part of a "cover-up" of the violations or be accused of aiding those who have violated the law, but that paying employees for their services and salaries owed was a paramount concern.
Speaker Figir's response to recent negative press releases and statements regarding Congress' actions was to say that, "what we hear from the Executive Branch behind closed doors is substantially different from what we read in these negative, politically charged, statements.
"There are a lot of half-truths and misinformation being circulated; I urge every interested citizen to read the actual legislation and accompanying committee reports to learn the whole truth. I wish I had time to say more, but there are still three days left in Session and we've got work to do," said Speaker Figir.
The Speaker said "the mud-slinging must stop, our citizens deserve more from their leaders."
The Fifth Regular Session as extended by Resolution 16-130 is expected to adjourn on October 6, 2010.
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