Tokelau’s Budget Committee meet in Nukunonu ahead of General Fono

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Ulu o Tokelau, Aliki Faipule Siopili Perez opens the Budget Committee meeting.

The Ulu o Tokelau, Aliki Faipule Siopili Perez officially opened Tokelau’s budget committee yesterday ahead of the Second Sitting of Tokelau’s 9th Parliament.
The meeting was also updated on New Zealand’s perspective on key capital developments and relationship between the two countries from Tokelau’s Administrator, H.E. Mr David Nicholson.
“I see New Zealand and Tokelau as having moved past a period of difficulty in the relationship. I am pleased that we have been able to work through some tough issues together. I trust that our relationship will be the stronger for it, and help us work towards the common goal of improving the quality of Tokelauans lives on the atolls of Fakaofo, Atafu and Nukunonu.”
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Administrator of Tokelau, HE David Nicholson addresses delegates.
The Administrator commended Tokelau for providing a balanced budget for 2017/18 after three years of deficit budgets as he provided the Committee with more details of New Zealand’s assistance in the areas of governance, connectivity: transport and ICT solutions, core services: education and health, law and justice, fisheries, and gender.
One of the highlights is work to overcome Tokelau’s isolation by fast-tracking the ‘ship to shore infrastructure project’ now set for completion for Atafu and Nukunonu in 2018, and Fakaofo in 2019.
“As well as support with ship-to-shore, New Zealand is also pleased to gift a fast inter-atoll vessel through our Pacific Maritime Safety Programme to support Search and Rescue operations, medical evacuations to the Nukunonu hospital and inter-island passenger transport. This vessel and associated infrastructure are valued at $750,000.”
He also added, that majority funding for submarine-cable enabled internet and ICT connectivity will be a New Zealand commitment.
In concluding, the Administrator announced he has committed $10,000 to be divided equally to each Women’s committee in each village for gender related initiatives and maintaining culture. He further committed to providing trophies for the upcoming youth national sports tournament which received a lound round of applause from delegates.
For the Budget Committee, some of the key issues that delegates will consider include:
progress of the new Budget and Policy Concept developed by the Finance Department last year.
Implications for three new standalone departments: Fisheries Management Agency, Climate Change Unit, and the Office of the Public Service Commissioner that will operate in 2017, and
50% increase in cigarette and tobacco duty from 195% to 295%. It will increase the cost of a packet to $9.50 and bring in extra revenue of approximately $250,000 annually.
In November 2015, the General Fono tasked the Department of Finance to further develop its new Budget Policy Concept in consideration of historical budgetary concerns from the villages.
The Policy concept is aimed at promoting and supporting Tokelau’s development aspirations. To better align development aspirations and their expected achievement within the timeframe of the 2016-2020 National Strategic Plan, the ‘Team’ worked closely with Council of the Ongoing Government; and seek funding assistance from development partners for specific key capital development projects.
At the Budget Committee meeting that started today, delegates are aware that more work is required to better align development priorities with the expected outcomes.
The proposed Budget Structure 2017/18 in discussion incorporates the inclusion of a multi-year budgeting framework and maintains last year’s expenditure classifications. And these are aligned to the key areas of focus for the Budget Concept and Proposed Budget Structure 2017 – 2020, that was introduced last year, which include:
separation of capital development funds from recurrent budget,
multi-year framework showing indicative expenditure and revenue forecasts,
improving alignment between budgeting and planning
u is a non-self-governing territory of New Zealand. It is located in the Pacific Ocean north of Samoa and south of the Equator (9 00 S, 172 00 W).
It is made up of three small atolls separated from each other by high seas. The total land area is approximately 12 km². The total sea area of the exclusive economic zone is approximately 518,000 km². The height above sea level is between 3-5 metres, the maximum width is 200 metres. Tokelau is therefore particularly vulnerable to natural disasters.
The people of Tokelau are New Zealand citizens.
The population of 1499 (2016 census) is spread approximately equally among the three atolls (Atafu (541); Fakaofo (506) and Nukunonu (452). The traditional lifestyle was subsistence but Tokelau has moved to a cash economy. The only natural resource of any current economic significance is the fishery of the exclusive economic zone.
Tokelau has no main town; each island has its own administrative centre, hospital, school and basic infrastructure. There are no airstrips or harbours. Access is only by ship; through the Port of Apia, Samoa.
There are approximately 7000 Tokelauans living in New Zealand, and smaller communities in Australia, Samoa, American Samoa, and Hawaii.
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The budget committee