The Appropriation Bill, or the Budget for the 2018/19 financial year, is expected to be passed in Parliament today.
Finance minister Mark Brown, who tabled the Budget last week Friday, said he was pleased with the debate this week presented by the members from the Opposition and the government.
He said most of the speakers spoke in support of the Budget which was pleasing.
“Also the Speaker (Nikki Rattle) in allocating certain times for each of the ministry appropriations or allocations has enabled more discussion on more ministries rather than in previous years we could spend three days on just one ministry, not really talking effectively about the appropriation,” Brown said.
“This way she has managed to allow more people to speak on more ministries and get through a larger number of the appropriations and the line items, so very effective use of Parliament time.
“I think by Friday (today) we should pass the Appropriation Bill so that when we get to the end of the month, ministries can have access to funding for the start of the new quarter.”
The Budget, which focuses on the children of Cook Islands, has been once again termed the “People’s Budget”.
Among a number of initiatives, increase in the qualifying age of the child benefit from the current 0-12 years to 0-16 years over a period of two years is one of the major ones.
Brown in his Budget speech said the government recognises the impact of the high costs of participating in secondary education on Cook Islands families.
And to address this it will increase the age of the child benefit from the current 0-12 to 0-16 years old over a period of two years.
“As of 1 October 2018, the child benefit age will be extended to under 14 years. As of July 2019, the government will provide additional funds to accommodate the age extension to under 16-year-olds. This will provide additional funding to families to enable them to attend to their children’s basic necessities,” Brown said.
The allocation for Ministry of Health has also increased by $1.4 million which will allow them to achieve their commitment.
An additional $84,000 has been given to Ministry of Agriculture to strengthen collaboration and partnerships between the ministry and the Pa Enua island governments.