National Budget for 2024 Does Not Align With Stated Fiscal Policy: Audit Office
The Auditor General’s Office has expressed concern that the 2024 National Budget does not reflect the government’s fiscal strategy. The state’s chief financial watchdog noted in their budget recommendation that revenue increases and expenditure cuts proposed in the fiscal strategy statement published last July were not reflected in the proposed budget.
Measures not included in the 2024 budget, that were in the fiscal strategy, were the protection of lakes and wetlands for the sale of carbon credits in the world market and dividend payouts from the integrated tourism project at Gaafaru. None of these measures have yet been implemented, according to the Audit Office.
“It is important that the measures planned to increase state revenue are properly researched and implemented under an accountable system,” the agency recommendation noted with concern.
Among other proposed cost reductions, the Audit Office noted the proposed changes to Aasandha, which was also included in the fiscal strategy but not reflected in the budget.
Aasandha, the state’s health insurance programme, remains the highest budgetary expense, marked by substantial year-over-year expenditure growth.
The Auditor General’s Office noted that, while the budget implies a policy to enhance the responsible use of Aasandha, it does not provide details on any such policy.
The budget estimates that the undocumented policy will help reduce Aasandha expenditure by MVR 492.9 million, with projections indicating a potential increase in expenditure next year if the policy is not implemented.
The Auditor General’s Office further recommended that the government set up a checklist to implement, monitor, and hold to account, the-as-yet-unimplemented measures that were proposed to reduce Aasandha expenditure in previous years.
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