RMI Considering $32.7 Million Supplementary Budget
By Giff Johnson
SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Feb. 27, 2013) – The Marshall Islands parliament is considering a $32.7 million supplementary budget, following its introduction late last week by Minister of Finance Dennis Momotaro.
The budget, if approved, would supplement the $144.2 million budget passed last September. The majority of the supplementary budget, however, does not represent cash grants or tax revenue. Three aid projects from Japan account for $22.1 million of the total supplemental budget, all of which is provided as in-kind aid. These Japan-funded projects include $16 million for two ships now under construction in Japan, $3 million for heavy equipment recently provided to the Ministry of Public Works, and $3.1 million for reverse osmosis equipment that is soon to be provided to the Ministry of Resources and Development.
Another $2.5 million in the supplementary budget is specific aid projects from the United Nations, European Union, World Bank, Australia and Asian Development Bank. There is also $925,500 from a combination of Interior Department, Australia, ADB and UNDP specific projects.
The actual revenues identified in the new budget include $4 million from the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority, $1 million from the country’s ship registry, $1.8 million from Taiwan and $300,000 from taxes for a total of $7.1 million.
The fisheries funding is available because of a dramatic increase in revenue generated by the Parties to the Nauru Agreement nations, which have ratcheted up the price of "fishing days" from about $1,700 three years ago to $5,000. The eight PNA members control ocean areas where the majority of tuna is caught.
The financially troubled government airline Air Marshall Islands is slated to receive an injection of $1.5 million, while the government is also proposing to use part of the $7.1 million to pay the $1.4 million in electricity bills and land leases for local landowners, and to pay prior-year liabilities amounting to $1.1 million. Nearly $800,000 is listed for "Social Development and Capital Projects," while several ministries and agencies will receive $1,834,447.
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