Also in the Senate today, there was debate on the Finance and Audit Reform Amendment Bill. Leader of Government Business, Senator Eamon Courtenay explained that it was to provide for the establishment of a Contingencies Fund to be used in emergency situations.
Eamon Courtenay, Government Senator: “Madam President the Financial Secretary has told the senators that what has happened and has always happened is one, no contingencies fund has ever been created by the government and funded as required by the constitution and therefore when a hurricane hits, there’s a flood, there is COVID or any other unforeseen emergencies the government has to go to existing budget lines and to withdraw money from there and then bring a supplementary. What we seek to do is in order to comply with the constitutional mandate is to create the contingencies fund which will then have a line in the budget therefore when an emergency hits which is unforeseen there will be funds already appropriated by parliament for that purpose which can only be withdrawn by a warrant by the minister and if the conditions set out in the third schedule are satisfied. It’s important for the Senate to know that the monies can only be withdrawn if such monies may be appropriated for the purpose is for a public emergency under section 18 of the constitution, any other urgent and unforeseen expenditure, grants or loans to government for public emergencies, disaster management and relief and other similar matters and any other monies. Madam President we are in the hurricane season we have seen the effect of Hurricane Elsa already and this fund is needed in order that we can have access to monies in the event we are hit by a storm or any hurricane.”
However, Senator Darrell Bradley says that while he understands the need for such a fund, he had concerns over the fact there was not a limit on spending.