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Senate Meets to Debate the Supplementary Budget

The Supplementary Budget – this document refers to spending by the Government that was not approved or accommodated in the last budget debate. Legally, the government needs approval from the National Assembly in order to proceed with the spending of the public funds. In this week’s House Meeting, two supplementary budgets were tabled. The first has to do with expenses for the previous fiscal year while the other has to do with current expenses not previously approved. Today the Senate debated the two budgets with the Lead Opposition Senator, Michael Peyrefitte questioning several of the line items.

Senator Michael Peyrefitte: “The first bill, number six, I take it that that’s a combination of money spent by the two administrations? There’s a hybrid, there’s a combination of the two and it will be interesting to know how much has been spent since the pandemic and since the change of government if we could differentiate and debate and ask more questions. Like for example when you look at number six the recurrent 12021 which deals with travel and subsistence from the Court of Appeal in the Judiciary. The approved estimates were $118,326 and there’s a supplementary estimate for travel and subsistence and I just wanted to know for example what constituted that $59,000 since as far as I know most things have been done virtually recently. Travel and subsistence to where ? To do what specifically ? If we look at Capital 2 you talk about COVID-19 medical supplies and equipment $4,490,090 well what medical supplies and equipment for over four million dollars that we didn’t have before ? I say that Mr. President because this government was voted in on the concept of transparency and full disclosure so we just want to know if you intend – this very thing used to be heavily criticized by the current government and we thought that they would give more explanation as to things like these. We know and I was told by the Minister of State in the back room of this Ministry of Home Affairs and New Growth industries the purchase of a computer $13,200 but that may have been a typographical error Minister ? It’s several computers and not just one ? Okay because I would have wondered that’s a dynamite computer. I mean we have to work with what we were given it says ‘a’ computer but I would like to know how many computers were bought for that and for what purpose. We see under the Ministry of Finance Cap 3 from this same number six ‘Coronavirus Disease 2019 Emergency Response’ $2,672,744 but what is that about ?”

Responding to Senator Peyrefitte’s queries was Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance, Senator Christopher Coye.

Senator Christopher Coye: “The suggestion that there should be explanatory notes is one that can be considered in a similar fashion perhaps more detailed description of the appropriations can be given as well. But at the same time I don’t think, well I should say that it is more than a stretch to say that because there is insufficient detail that what appropriations are proposed here represent an excess, represent a squandering of scarce resources. These are appropriations these are not expenditures that have gone. Some have but the bulk of it are prospective and in any event the details will bring out that these are critical for the functioning of the government. These are not excesses.”

Both supplementary budgets were ratified in today’s Senate sitting.