“Over the years since i join politics, I could not recall Vanuatu’s fiscal position being very healthy compared to this period,” caretaker Prime Minister Sato Kilman conveyed in a statement.
“This is not only the outcomes of the ongoing reforms, but also the results of collective efforts of Government policy makers and some very highly respected engineers across the public sector who spearheaded some of the finest initiatives to generate much needed government receipts.
“2015 was a very challenging year. Vanuatu was hit by TC Pam around mid-March which destroyed most of the services sector and partly on agriculture. A natural disaster of such magnitude could have destroyed Vanuatu’s environment completely if it was to pass through the entire archipelago. The whole country’s economy contracted massively but thanks to timely policy interventions which resulted to bolster economic activity that assisted to offset such a projected magnitude of contraction.”
The caretaker PM stated in the early days of 2015, the government public finances went through yet another turning point following the suspension of the Hong Kong Residency program which notably affected Government planned expenses.
“However, the outcome was rather short lived following the launching of another related revenue generating program in China called the Vanuatu Economic Rehabilitation Program (VERP), which was rolled out soon after the event of March 13,”he continued.
“Meanwhile, i have also intervened immediately to suspend the much publicised Capital Investment & Immigration Program (CIIP), which failed miserably to meet its legal requirements contained under the signed agreement.
“Notwithstanding the event of October – November 2015 that led to the jailing of Vanuatu’s 14 Member of Parliament (MP) and subsequently the dissolution of Parliament thereafter, Vanuatu was forced to enter into a snap General Election — an exercise that will cost the country approximately Vt70 million to conduct; heightening the fiscal pressure even more.
“After all, the timely conduct of expansionary economic policies soon after TC Pam that was maintained thereafter and throughout the rest of 2015 combined with the influx of financial assistance from the donor communities, provided the much needed relieve in public receipts to the extend where the momentum has been exacerbated by the non-programmed inflows from VERP.”
Caretaker PM Kilman believes that in his leadership as PM, he has ensured that public expenses were streamlined, contained and aligned with government priority policies.
He said the measures deployed to control public expenses included and not limited to public investments and their quality and legally binding obligations, adding “While we appreciate that government arrears continue to show up, it is my understanding that necessary measures have been installed to assist with settlement. It is with much hope that all outstanding public expenses, arrears and legal obligations must follow the right approval channels to avoid frustrations and complains in delaying payments.
“With these challenges, I have received confirmation that the fiscal outturn for 2015 was a huge surplus which together put Vanuatu into a very strong fiscal position in history.
“I am proud to inform the general public of this result as we begin the new fiscal year 2016. I am also very thankful to the leadership of the former Minister of Finance & Economic Management, Mr Willie Jimmy with his wealth of expertise and wisdom in public financial management.
“I extend my sincere gratitude to the technocrats in the Ministry of Finance & Economic Management and to everyone across the Government for their tireless contribution in optimally managing Vanuatu’s scarce financial resources prudently so as public service delivery is realised at all levels of the communities.”