Opposition throws out voted down $$M again
…Speaker urges Parliamentary parties to seek out greater collaboration
By Gary Eleazar
Following a ruling by Speaker of the National Assembly Raphael Trotman, that Financial Paper #9 representing some $79M expended from the Contingencies Fund in 2011 can be resubmitted for consideration, the joint Opposition again voted down the expenditure.
The monies were originally voted down by the Opposition in March when Financial Paper #7 was being debated.
At that time the Speaker of the House had advised Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh, that he can re-submit the financial papers to the House for approval or disapproval.
Following this, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU)’s Carl Greenidge, again sought Speaker Trotman’s intervention.
In a missive addressed to Trotman, the Former Finance Minister said that the Parliamentary Standing Orders pertaining to the issue of the Financial Papers were unambiguous.
The Speaker disagreed with this assertion.
Greenidge did mention an expectation that the Government would have approached the Opposition “to solicit their agreement to explore a possible way forward in this matter.”
This did find favour with the Speaker, who in his ruling on the matter advised that, “There are definitely many lacunas in the legislative architecture for financial management, and it is urged that the Parliamentary Parties seek consensus, as other countries have done, in fashioning constitutional and legislative amendments to better regulate the conduct if the procedure for government to receive permission for spending: whilst not unduly unfettering the right of either to discharge its constitutional mandate to fiancé its budget and to approve such spending.”
Following the ruling by the Speaker, the House resolved into a Committee of Supply where the Members of Parliament are given the opportunity to seek clarification on the expenditure or propose amendments.
APNU and its Parliamentary sidekick, the Alliance for Change (AFC) remained silent as the Speaker afforded the opportunity for scrutiny.
At the vote, the joint Opposition again disallowed the $79M which formed a part of the Supplementary Expenditures for 2011.
With the expenditure not receiving Parliamentary approval, the Contingencies Fund will remain void of $79M, given that without Parliamentary approval the Contingencies Fund cannot be replenished.
The monies voted down again include $29M paid over to Bovell Construction Services for the site preparation for the Indian Specialty Hospital at Turkeyen, and a $25M allocation to Office of the President – this money the House was told, was used for expenditure associated with the conferment of National Awards and other events hosted by the State, particularly the swearing in of the new Cabinet and Head of State.