Sitting of the Senate took place today with the aim of looking at the budget for the fiscal year 2016/2017. Senator for Government Business, Godwin Hulse explained the role of the Senate, today’s aims and objectives as well as the next step forward.
“After we close off the sessions and we pass the Bills, they go to the Governor General for signature and they become law. The role of the Senate generally is, when it comes to money Bills it’s really just oversight, we have to correct things if there is anything wrong but we can’t determine or change the proposal for government spending, that is done by the house. There are going to be other bills that are coming up and if there are adjustments to make the Senate can also make those and send them back to the house but when it comes to money bills its not possible. One of the things we have to remember is that in this process of the senate and you were not in the media back then but there was a time when the appropriation act did not allow. There was no allocation for payment of our debt and I raised the matter and the Senate adjourned; the Prime Minister at the time Honorable Said Musa and the budget manager at the time Honorable Ralph Fonseca had to include a supplementary to cover that, that’s really the role of the senate to say “okay your numbers don’t add up” but really yes we can talk all day whether government can be spending on this or that but that is not our purview.”
While several concerns were brought about on the line items in the budget for the upcoming fiscal year, there was also the presentation of several Bills in the Customs and Excise Department as well as the Immigration ministry.
“There is one for the Customs and Excise that we are going to include, we are going to remove RRD of CARICOM goods and we are going to put excise duty, that is in compliance with our CARICOM agreement. Then there is one to adjust the Brewery act which is simply to take the excise out of the brewery act and put it in the customs act where it really belongs and there are five immigration bills that we are introducing hopefully to give myself, not the legal power because I do have it, but to make sure that the legislature says that yes the Minister can delegate powers to the Minister of State..”
Opposition Senator Eamon Courtenay made an objection regarding one of the Immigration Bills and thus the Senate had a closed door session to get clarity from the Legal Counsel. We will have more on those Bills in tomorrow’s newscast.