The Ministry of Finance calls on the ministries, the sub-ministries and the independent services not to leave uncollected even a cent, on the occasion of the approval of the 2021 state budget by the Parliament. In a circular, the director general of the ministry, George Pantelis, indicates that they should make every effort to reduce as much as possible the loss of revenue, due to the difficult financial situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, it calls on them to take all necessary measures to recover the arrears. It is recalled that, according to the latest report of the Audit Office, until the end of December 2019 the arrears of state revenues were € 2.86 billion, of which 77%, corresponding to € 2.21 billion, concerned the Tax department.
At the same time, the Director General of the Ministry of Finance informs all stakeholders that spending ceilings have been set per ministry, sub-ministry and independent services. “Based on these ceilings, every effort was made to draft a comprehensive budget for the implementation of the plan strategies of the ministries / sub-ministries / independent services and to avoid the submission of additional budgets to the Parliament,” he added. At the same time, Mr. Pantelis calls on them to place special emphasis on the implementation of development expenditures, as well as the remaining expenditures, which, as he notes, will help in the warming and recovery of the economy. “It is up to each of us to make the best use of the budget, in order to contribute to our exit from the socio-economic crisis to which the coronavirus pandemic has led us, as soon as possible,” he stressed.
Requests for release
The circular, issued a few days ago, urges ministries and government agencies to forward to the Ministry of Finance, as soon as possible, their requests for the release of funds crossed by Parliament, through the approval of more than 30 amendments. approved by the opposition parties. The final text of the state budget for 2021 included both the amendments-proposals of the parties that submitted last December, when it was rejected, and the amendments when the budget was approved last month. According to the circular of the Ministry of Finance, due to the parliamentary elections in May, the Parliament will end its work 30 to 40 days in advance, with the result that from mid-April until the reopening of Parliament, requests for the release of funds can not be considered. As noted in the circular, all affected ministries and services should submit their requests in a timely manner to the Budget Directorate of the Ministry of Finance, so that, when evaluated, they can be forwarded as soon as possible to the parliamentary Finance Committee. It is recalled that in addition to the cross-cutting of funds and the inclusion of an insert note in various appropriations for information purposes of the Parliament, a 10% cut was made in the expenses related to consulting services, operating expenses, as well as appropriations related to staff training. conferences and seminars.
Full analysis for the purchase of services
In relation to the release of funds related to the contractual obligations of ministries and government services in relation to consulting services, according to the circular, ministries should make a full analysis of the need to purchase these services. In particular, the ministries, before sending their requests to the Ministry of Finance, should make an analysis of the purpose, cost and duration of the contract. Releases should be divided into those relating to contractual obligations, ie existing contracts, as well as those relating to new purchases of services within 2021. In its circular, the Ministry of Finance draws the attention of the affected departments to the law on public procurement. The purpose of this legislation is to purchase services for a limited period of time and for cases in which existing civil servants do not have the know-how to implement a project. Strictly speaking, the ministry points out that understaffing is not an excuse, nor is it acceptable for the purchase of services. He also reiterates that the purchase of services should have a specific duration and not exceed 30 months, in order not to create a civil servant relationship between employer and employee.
With regard to the appropriations committed and related to the rents paid by the state for the housing of government departments, the ministries will have to submit a relevant table for the expenses they have to pay from May to December. It is recalled that the Parliament had excluded from the cross-funds the credits related to the rents from January to April.
The project evaluation process has been revised
In the meantime, the ministries, sub-ministries and services will have until April to submit to the General Directorate of EPSA and the Directorate of Budget, the notes for the public works and the sustainability studies, in order to be evaluated and included in next year's budget. It is noted that the procedure has recently been reviewed in relation to the evaluation of investment projects. Specifically, for projects with a cost of more than € 2 million, which will be included in the budget, a project note must be prepared by the body proposing the project. For projects with a cost of more than € 15 million, which have been evaluated positively in the project note, a viability study should be prepared at the same time and submitted to the EPSA. It should be noted that all public investment projects are under evaluation, at a cost of over € 2 million, including projects to be co-financed by the European Structural and Investment Funds and projects to be financed by the Recovery Fund. However, the appraisal process applies to public investments involving both the construction of buildings and the purchase and rental of buildings. When a government agency relocates to another building, which it will either buy with a rental market or pay the full amount at the time of purchase, it will have to prepare after the publication of the open call for interest to the private sector and after the building appraisal process is completed project note, which will include a comparison of construction, purchase or rental alternatives. From time to time, the evaluation process will be applied to the projects of state organizations that receive state sponsorship, which exceeds 40% of their total budget. The public works of ministries, sub-ministries, independent services and municipalities are now being evaluated.
The ministries put the overtime where they want
For another year, the Ministry of Finance finds that ministries and independent agencies include funds in incorrect budget articles. Specifically, overtime allowances for civil servants are not charged in the appropriate budget articles, but where appropriations are available … Also, incorrect funds are included in the operating expenses. As the ministry points out, this article charges the expenses related to the amounts offered during the ministerial contacts and meetings of state officials, as well as the expenses for the air tickets for the descent of foreign missions to Cyprus. The ministry calls on them to properly allocate the funds to the budget. It is worth noting that due to the delays caused by the untimely approval of the budget by Parliament and the difficult fiscal conditions from the pandemic, it was decided in 2021 not to implement the credit transfer process between the financial years 2020-2021. On the other hand, cases concerning contractual obligations of the state, for which insufficient funds have not been included in this year's budget, will be considered on the basis of the legalized credit transfer procedure within the same year, while requests for additional appropriations will be met by average supplementary budgets.
I spare the bonuses, to save
As for the state grants to the semi-governmental organizations and the local authorities, they will be paid in four equal installments, after the submission of the cash flow statement and bank balances by the affected parties. At the same time, all allowances, according to the Ministry of Finance, should be given sparingly, in order to save costs. In fact, the ministry suggests that lower-wage workers should be selected to be promoted abroad, so that the state pays less money for foreign benefits. Finally, the circular states that in the proposals submitted by the ministers and the deputy ministers to the Council of Ministers, on issues that have economic implications, the views of the Ministry of Finance should be incorporated.