The Appropriation Bill presented to parliament each financial year is what we commonly refer to
as the budget. This Bill is more significant than a regular Financial Bill; it is a statement that
outlines the fiscal policy direction of the incumbent government. As the budget determines all
government spending for the next year, it is the most important annually recurring process that
takes place in parliament.
1. The Appropriation Bill is taken up for debate in parliament according to a first, second and
third reading. Voting on the bill takes place in two stages: first after the second reading and then
after the third reading. After the final vote, the speaker makes an announcement in parliament to
confirm whether the budget has been approved or rejected. Thereafter, once the speaker places
his signature, the bill becomes law (Appropriation Act). This year, the budget speech (second
reading) took place on the 5 th of March, the debate on the second reading began on the 6 th of
March and the vote took place on the 12 th of March.
2. The “second reading”, commonly known as the “budget speech” is tabled in parliament by
the Finance Minister. The debate that takes place after the second reading can last up to 7 days.
During this period, areas such as ministry allocations, taxes and customs duty are debated.
3. The “third reading” is also referred to as the “committee stage”. At this stage, the entire
parliament becomes one committee and any amendments are then presented and adopted to
individual paragraphs of the Appropriation Bill. This process takes place within a span of 20
days. This year, the debate on the third reading is scheduled to begin on the 13 th of March and
the voting will take place on the 5 th of April.
4. A notable distinction from the common practice of dividing time equally between the
government and the opposition is that during the Appropriation Bill debates, more time is
allocated to the opposition.
5. As per Article 48 (2) of the constitution, if the budget is not adopted by a majority, the
cabinet is dissolved. If the budget does get adopted by a majority, it ensures the stability of the
government in the next financial year. As a formal end to the proceedings, both government and
opposition parliamentarians meet over a traditional tea party before dispersing.