Tackling the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recovery are the priority areas for the national government’s budget for 2021.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Treasury, McKinnie Dentana told the public through the oversight’s radio talkback show recently.

Dentana says the government’s budget strategy was launched on Monday 8th February 2021 with consultations now underway.

“So currently the Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Finance and other key ministries we are doing consultations with ministries to put across messages on what the key focus are for the government this year in terms of the budget”, Dentana says.

He says the policy redirection is the priority for the national government.

The policy redirection being undertaken by the government is aimed at cushioning the negative economic impact of COVID-19. It is an improvised policy pathway to redirect scarce financial and budget resources towards the most urgent and critical pillars of the economy capable of countering the short term impact of negative growth while contributing to sustainable financial recovery over the medium to long term.

More specifically, the policy redirection is focused on targeted investments within the major sectors for growth, the productive and resource sectors, without diminishing the importance of maintaining and developing essential services.

The policy redirection aims to address the following objectives:
1. Immediately address the health pandemic by preventing the spread to protect the vulnerable within society.
2. Mitigate and counter the negative impacts of the COVID19 pandemic on the local economy.
3. Strengthening institutional foundations and delivery mechanisms to bolster economic resilience.

Dentana says after the consultations, the 2021 budget will be finalised and presented to cabinet before making its way to Parliament for debate. The ministry of finance is hoping to complete this process by the end of March.

“The intention of the government is to have this budget passed within early or before the end of April so that implementation can be done as soon as possible”, Dentana says.

Currently the government is using an interim budget to allow spending on critical services and to progress some of the activities under the government’s redirection policy.

The country is still under a State of Emergency.