Wittenberg

The Ziu => The Lobby => Topic started by: Miestră Schivă, UrN on October 27, 2020, 04:55:11 PM

Title: [FINANCE] Draft Budget coming November 1
Post by: Miestră Schivă, UrN on October 27, 2020, 04:55:11 PM
The Ministry of Finance has gotten draft requisitions from all Ministries for funding in the 55th Cosa budget. We are currently examining options for revenue on how to pay for these.

We intend to publish a Draft Budget for public comment on November 1, in plenty of time for the final version to go on the Second Clark, as required by law.

Questions? Comments?
Title: Re: [FINANCE] Draft Budget coming November 1
Post by: Miestră Schivă, UrN on November 01, 2020, 04:06:20 PM
DRAFT FIGURES FOR THE 55th COSA BUDGET

I have received the following requisitions from the various Ministries of the Government (all sums in $US):


No requisitions were received from Interior, Foreign Affairs or Defence. This comes to a total requested expenditure of $585.15.

Estimated sources of revenue include the following:


If all these requisitions are to be honoured, this leaves a deficit of $532.15 to be covered by (a) the sale of coins and stamps; (b) "voluntary taxation" (i.e. donations) from Talossan citizens. I note that this deficit is more than half of Talossa's total reserves to date.

I urge, in the month before the Budget has to be presented to the Ziu:


Let us make it clear that the financial question is here a political question; Talossans are only going to buy stamps and coins and plain give the Government money if they support the proposed levels of expenditure and their goals.

Questions? Comments?
Title: Re: [FINANCE] Draft Budget coming November 1
Post by: Eðo Grischun on November 01, 2020, 09:38:41 PM
STUFF

i) The figure for web hosting is a necessary expense. The bill is not actually due until next summer, but shall fall payable prior to the formation of the next government (ie: when this current government goes into caretaker status during the next election period).  The bill covers 12 months of web hosting from summer 2021 to summer 2022 and also the domain renewal for Talossa.com for that same time period.

ii) the request of $30 for a social media budget is intended to be used to "boost" selected posts on Facebook as posted on the Kingdom's official Facebook page.  The intention is to spend this sum once per month for 6 months at around $5 per spend (6*5=30).  The posts being "boosted" will be for citizenship drives (ie: 'join talossa' posts), of which we will do x4, and also for coin/stamps sales drives, of which we will do x2.  These sales drive posts may help pay for the project and my goal would be that $30 of sales be achieved by those 2 drives to pay for the social media budget. The purpose of "boosting" posts is to increase exposure of those posts to a greater audience (that is that Facebook will display those posts to more people based on how much you spend, similar to Facebook Ads).

iii) The Ministry is available to answer any questions on these budget requests.

iv) It is the intention of the Ministry of STUFF to carry out a redesign of the coin/stamps page on the website to make them appear more appealing (I think we need some nicer and more higher res images and some text tweaking to include more calls to action). Meanwhile, it is the intention of the Ministry of the Interior to start sending all prospective citizens some 'point of sale' literature (which shall be made by MinSTUFF) (basically a JPEG version of the website sales page) in an attempt to increase sales of these items.  At some stage during this Cosa session, we may also send out a mass mailer to all citizens with the sales literature as a sales drive.
Title: Re: [FINANCE] Draft Budget coming November 1
Post by: Ian Plätschisch on November 01, 2020, 10:30:29 PM
for honoraria for writers of articles for a new Talossan cultural magazine, $225
Well gee, maybe I should pack it up over at La S'chinteia and start making fat stacks at whatever this new magazine is  ;D
Title: Re: [FINANCE] Draft Budget coming November 1
Post by: Miestră Schivă, UrN on November 01, 2020, 10:54:29 PM
Eh, if you buy $50 of Talossan stamps and write 2 articles for $50, it's pretty much a wash :D
Title: Re: [FINANCE] Draft Budget coming November 1
Post by: Eiric S. Bornatfiglheu on November 02, 2020, 08:38:58 AM
for honoraria for writers of articles for a new Talossan cultural magazine, $225
Well gee, maybe I should pack it up over at La S'chinteia and start making fat stacks at whatever this new magazine is  ;D

It is not the government's intention in this case to set up a competing magazine.  In fact, the honoraria money is intended to commission Talossan language articles (with translations) for La S'chinteia.  My assumption here in these honoraria is that "if you won't do it for love, will you do it for lucre?"  The expansion of Talossan literature is well worth the investment.
Title: Re: [FINANCE] Draft Budget coming November 1
Post by: Sir Alexandreu Davinescu on November 02, 2020, 09:51:31 AM
I wonder if it would be possible to create a graph of the Kingdom's financial assets over time from the last few years.  I am not sure if my recall is off, but this level of spending and deficit seems unusual -- alarming, actually.  But maybe it's not, and we have just had increased revenues every time?  I don't know.

At this point, with the standardized approach and reporting that we have had for years, this also seems like a thing that could be easily compiled into a spreadsheet so we could compare over years.
Title: Re: [FINANCE] Draft Budget coming November 1
Post by: Ian Plätschisch on November 02, 2020, 02:39:24 PM
I wonder if it would be possible to create a graph of the Kingdom's financial assets over time from the last few years.  I am not sure if my recall is off, but this level of spending and deficit seems unusual -- alarming, actually.  But maybe it's not, and we have just had increased revenues every time?  I don't know.

What usually happens is that appropriations about this large are made but then not actually spent.
Title: Re: [FINANCE] Draft Budget coming November 1
Post by: Miestră Schivă, UrN on November 02, 2020, 02:55:10 PM
I thought I had already made it clear; yes, this is a significant increase in government spending over previous years. This Government wishes to do more, if possible. Only the question of whether the people will come to the party with stamp/coin purchases or voluntary taxes will answer whether it really is possible. It is of course possible even if we don't get those tax revenues, because of our $1000+ reserves built up over previous years. But it must still be justified and get wide popular acceptance.

This is where I justify the expenditure for a Registered Agent. People say that Talossa has become "virtualised" since Cybercitizens came to outnumber residents of the GTA. But in another sense, we have become far more real, because we now have actual property, being defined as our national webspace, our domain names, our bank accounts, and our stamps/coins. It behooves us to consider how to best protect that property.

At the moment, our "real" property is held by the Burgermeister of Internal Revenue, and our "online" property is held by the Talossan Web Registrant, who are at the moment the same person. This person is, as we all know, a person of impeccable honesty. But we might not always be so lucky. If an unscrupulous successor were to simply embezzle our national property, we would have no recourse under macronational law, any more than KR1 could do anything about the Republican revolutionaries' seizure of Wittenberg and talossa.com on 1 June 2004. (Ben thought he was clever getting MPF to set up our national webspace and not pay him. He thought wrongly. You get what you pay for.)

In previous years, some had suggested setting up Talossa as an incorporated society under the law of the State of Wisconsin, with the King as President of that society. There is a much simpler option, as pointed out to me by my colleague @Dien Tresplet:

Quote
There is an Unincorporated Association document for Talossa appointing a Registered Agent on file with the Wisconsin SoS right now, and UAs can have bank accounts and hold property provided the document exists. The Registered Agent either needs to be changed to a Talossan currently living in WI or else we need to pay a corporate Registered Agent.

As no Talossan living in Wisconsin has stepped up to volunteer to be our Registered Agent, it seems that the yearly fee for a corporate Registered Agent is in the $50-$100 per annum range; cxhn. Tresplet is currently doing further research. But this is the price for having Talossa's property secured to us under macronational law, giving us recourse against embezzlement.
Title: Re: [FINANCE] Draft Budget coming November 1
Post by: Miestră Schivă, UrN on November 02, 2020, 03:26:19 PM
I should note that I am mulling over the question of prioritising these expenditures, some of which will definitely be made out of reserves no matter how much funding rolls in, and some of which will only happen if the necessary funding rolls in. I am definitely not going to authorise $600+ of deficit spending right now.
Title: Re: [FINANCE] Draft Budget coming November 1
Post by: Sir Alexandreu Davinescu on November 04, 2020, 09:06:58 AM
D:na Seneschal, would you agree that many these sums are usually appropriated and never spent?  If so, maybe it would be reasonable not to appropriate such huge amounts for them up front, and only appropriate the ones that are likely and necessary?
Title: Re: [FINANCE] Draft Budget coming November 1
Post by: Miestră Schivă, UrN on November 04, 2020, 03:48:15 PM
On the contrary, that's why I am more confident about appropriating them up front, and only spending them if we need to. You will be aware that spending which isn't appropriated up front can be authorised by a PD, which cuts the Ziu out of the equation and is IMHO less democratic. Better to over-appropriate than under-appropriate, IMHO.
Title: Re: [FINANCE] Draft Budget coming November 1
Post by: Sir Alexandreu Davinescu on November 04, 2020, 04:39:31 PM
On the contrary, that's why I am more confident about appropriating them up front, and only spending them if we need to. You will be aware that spending which isn't appropriated up front can be authorised by a PD, which cuts the Ziu out of the equation and is IMHO less democratic. Better to over-appropriate than under-appropriate, IMHO.

Well, we seem to be agreed that this would be a reckless and unacceptable amount of deficit spending currently. It doesn't seem to make any sense to propose authorization of an amounts that would be reckless, though. What's the point in approval of a budget at all if it's going to approve much larger amounts than the Ziu would actually be willing to spend, predicated on hypothetical future fundraising?

If your desire is to respect the democratic process, then you don't have to issue a PD to authorize further expenditures. A bill to do so could also be Clarked and passed at any time. That seems to make the most difference, rather than deliberately asking for authorization to spend an irresponsible amount of money before you know whether or not you'll be able to, right? Is that a possibility?
Title: Re: [FINANCE] Draft Budget coming November 1
Post by: Açafat del Val on November 08, 2020, 02:13:20 PM
Before I do (or do not) respond to any other items... I would like to withdraw the following budget request:

Quote
JUSTICE: for "monetary grants in kind for meritorious and exceptional work done in the execution of official ministerial or bureaucratic duties, for any civil servant or nonpolitical appointees", $100

In consideration of the budget deficit, this piece of discretionary spending is better spent on other things.
Title: Re: [FINANCE] Draft Budget coming November 1
Post by: Eiric S. Bornatfiglheu on November 08, 2020, 04:05:45 PM
At least in re: the Cultural appropriations, I can explain my reasoning as follows:

$225 for a culture magazine project:  The idea here is to offer $10 for an English Article, and $15 for a Talossan translation, with a package of both coming in at $25.  As the project is slated to run bimonthly, that would be 3 issues per Clark and funds for 3 articles on cultural topics.

Given the Amount of Talossan writing we already have, this project would prove a significant shot in the arm for the Talossan literary corpus.  Admittedly, one of our chief language experts has indicated that financial inducements don't have an effect because he doesn't know how to write articles.  But I would encourage people in such a condition to team up and then split the honoraria.

I used to work in the nonprofit sector, before I went into education.  One of the major issues with volunteers is that, well... there's only so much you can expect of them.  They're volunteering their time.  The museum where I worked needed reliable outputs, hence they professionalized their staff.  These honoraria aren't big, but that's the intention behind them.  It's enough to afford a couple of beers while you write.

The $100 for prizes and mailings is a shot in the dark on my part to cover shipping costs.  For me, sending a trophy to Gluc is very different than sending a trophy to Iason.  So I assumed that Gluc was going to win in every contest for the next Clark when setting this price.
Title: Re: [FINANCE] Draft Budget coming November 1
Post by: Miestră Schivă, UrN on November 15, 2020, 06:32:02 PM
Given all these comments, I foreshadow that I intend to Clark the 55th Cosa Budget as drafted above. We will seek a target of total coin/stamp sales, and "voluntary taxation" donations from Citizens, of $550 to fully cover all the Government spending appropriated. However, if we don't get that funding from citizens, I pledge that the effective deficit will be limited to $200 maximum; that is, if we don't get the funding, certain appropriations will never be spent.
Title: Re: [FINANCE] Draft Budget coming November 1
Post by: Sir Alexandreu Davinescu on November 16, 2020, 10:13:56 AM
If your desire is to respect the democratic process, then you don't have to issue a PD to authorize further expenditures. A bill to do so could also be Clarked and passed at any time. That seems to make the most difference, rather than deliberately asking for authorization to spend an irresponsible amount of money before you know whether or not you'll be able to, right? Is that a possibility?

Reiterating what I said above, it seems as though you're asking for the Ziu to authorize the expenditure of an amount that you acknowledge to be quite irresponsible, but you're promising that you won't really spend it unless things change with regards to our financial situation.  And while that's good financial planning, that doesn't seem much like a budget, really.

Isn't it more sensible to raise the amount first, and then appropriate what is actually raised in a later bill?  Failing that, and if you insist on this approach, then perhaps the Government should present this best-case budget plus the budget from the scenario where $449 or less is raised.  It doesn't seem like good practice, otherwise, since we don't actually know the specific expenditures to be authorized in the latter scenario.
Title: Re: [FINANCE] Draft Budget coming November 1
Post by: Miestră Schivă, UrN on November 16, 2020, 04:40:21 PM
The Cabinet is, at the moment, unified behind my approach. May I ask whether you would be planning to veto this budget?
Title: Re: [FINANCE] Draft Budget coming November 1
Post by: Sir Alexandreu Davinescu on November 16, 2020, 08:47:53 PM
If the Ziu thinks it is responsible to engage in this much deficit spending, then it seems well within its purview. And I don't identify any existential danger or violation of any organic principles or moral imperatives. No, I have no intention at all of acting in my role as regent to veto this planned bill.

I will note, however, that it is extremely unwise for a legislature to authorize a budget that isn't actually itemized. If the amount that the Government plans to raise doesn't materialize, then it's good that they are saying that they won't actually spend most of the treasury. But it's not good that they're not seeing exactly how much they would spend, or on what. The nation is left to guess at the actual budget. That is not smart planning, especially since it's unnecessary. It would be fairly easy to just identify the expenditures that would still happen even in a low fundraising situation. Would you share why you're declining to disclose this information, if only so I can understand?
Title: Re: [FINANCE] Draft Budget coming November 1
Post by: Miestră Schivă, UrN on November 17, 2020, 03:33:22 PM
I will note, however, that it is extremely unwise for a legislature to authorize a budget that isn't actually itemized. If the amount that the Government plans to raise doesn't materialize, then it's good that they are saying that they won't actually spend most of the treasury. But it's not good that they're not seeing exactly how much they would spend, or on what.

You appear to be saying that you don't think there's sufficient detail in the appropriations requests. Can I ask exactly how much more detail you would like for each of the proposed expenditures?


The Culture Minister, above, has explained how he has arrived at the figure for honoraria for a magazine. As to the fees for a Registered Agent, I am still awaiting a report from citizen Tresplett on precisely which option he recommends for this; $100 is a maximum fee, based on a very cursory Google. What other details would you like?
Title: Re: [FINANCE] Draft Budget coming November 1
Post by: Sir Alexandreu Davinescu on November 17, 2020, 09:40:18 PM
I will note, however, that it is extremely unwise for a legislature to authorize a budget that isn't actually itemized. If the amount that the Government plans to raise doesn't materialize, then it's good that they are saying that they won't actually spend most of the treasury. But it's not good that they're not seeing exactly how much they would spend, or on what.

You appear to be saying that you don't think there's sufficient detail in the appropriations requests. Can I ask exactly how much more detail you would like for each of the proposed expenditures?

  • for webhosting for the next 9 months, $80.15;
  • for promoting Talossa's social media posts, $30
  • for prizes for cultural contests, $100;
  • for honoraria for writers of articles for a new Talossan cultural magazine, $225
  • for fees for a Registered Agent to represent Talossa as an Unincorporated Association under the laws of the State of Wisconsin, to enable us to formally hold property, $100

The Culture Minister, above, has explained how he has arrived at the figure for honoraria for a magazine. As to the fees for a Registered Agent, I am still awaiting a report from citizen Tresplett on precisely which option he recommends for this; $100 is a maximum fee, based on a very cursory Google. What other details would you like?

Apologies -- I must not be communicating very effectively.

So, my understanding is that the Government wishes to appropriate $585.15.  You itemized these expenditures in the list above and in the draft.  But you actually don't intend to spend this amount unless fundraising brings in at least $550:

Given all these comments, I foreshadow that I intend to Clark the 55th Cosa Budget as drafted above. We will seek a target of total coin/stamp sales, and "voluntary taxation" donations from Citizens, of $550 to fully cover all the Government spending appropriated. However, if we don't get that funding from citizens, I pledge that the effective deficit will be limited to $200 maximum; that is, if we don't get the funding, certain appropriations will never be spent.

This means that there is another budget that is implied that has a total expenditure of $200, since "certain appropriations" won't be spent.  I'm asking for an itemization of that $200 budget.  Out of the optimistic $585.15, what makes the cut at $200?

It is entirely possible that I just missed where you said this, or that I have misunderstood.  But right now, it appears that we don't know which 66% of the itemized budget will be jettisoned.  So we don't know what actual planned expenditures will be.  I am asking that a $200 itemized budget be presented.
Title: Re: [FINANCE] Draft Budget coming November 1
Post by: Miestră Schivă, UrN on November 17, 2020, 10:02:54 PM
This means that there is another budget that is implied that has a total expenditure of $200, since "certain appropriations" won't be spent.  I'm asking for an itemization of that $200 budget.  Out of the optimistic $585.15, what makes the cut at $200

Oh, got you now. The answer is as follows:

Projected (minimum) income:

    Registration fees for Cosa election: $30-40
    Registration fees for Senäts election (assuming the Fleecing Bill passes): $15
    Interest on Talossa's bank accounts: $8

Total: $63

Projected essential spending:

Total: $260.15

I should also note that the Registered Agent expenditure is contingent on a report on the costs/benefits of this scheme which the Cabinet has yet to see. So we may not decide to go ahead with that, but best to make the appropriation in any case.
Title: Re: [FINANCE] Draft Budget coming November 1
Post by: Sir Alexandreu Davinescu on November 17, 2020, 11:33:06 PM
Thank you. That addresses all of my concerns.