Business Senator Disappointed by Budget: G.O.B., Public Service Can Do Better
There was a possibility, with an odd number of Senators now seated and any tie-breaker removed from President Lee Mark Chang except in specific circumstances, that the General Revenue and Appropriation Bill also known as the Budget could have faced the same fate as the PACT (Amendment) Bill. Indeed, the vote went in similar fashion – seven to six – but Churches Senator Ashley Rocke this time voted with the Government rather than against it. For Business Community Senator Mark Lizarraga, more pressure has to be brought to bear on the Public Service to clean up its act with regard to preparing for budgets and managing reasonable outcomes and outputs under the program budgeting style. Senator Lizarraga also commended Leader of Government Business Senator Godwin Hulse for committing to fixing errors in his various Ministries’ statements in the Budget.
Mark Lizarraga, Senator, Business Community
“The main point from the debate was that there are a lot of things that we need to start looking seriously at in our country, and the taxes and the budget play a big role; it impacts all of our lives and we have to be very, very careful that when we do things, we do things right.”
“Generally speaking, the Budget and the response from the Leader of Government Business – can you speak to that?”
“I’m happy – In some regards, the Leader of Government Business apologized for those errors that certainly came from his Ministry – that was refreshing, and we listened to his comments. Of course, we had quite a bit that concerned us, primarily in that the monitoring and evaluation systems that we have in place for the management and control of our Budget are still lacking for the most part; and we continue to give Government billions of dollars, and we want to see that they tell us quite clearly how it is that they are spending this money and what it is that they seek to achieve after spending this money. That is where I focused a lot of my presentation – of course we highlighted those blatant areas where we believe that due to sloppiness or due to not caring that many Departments did not fill in where they were supposed to fill in, and when they did take the time to fill in we questioned the validity of some of the content. I was really hoping at least we would have put a pause on it – it was our impression that we could pause these Bills – that we could have put a pause on it; the Government would not have run out of money, the Prime Minister can spend monies – I have believe he has three or four months’ worth of monies that he can spend without having a Budget. So we would have put a pause on the budget at least to get some of the blatant errors corrected; at least to send a message to the Public Service – ‘look, man, we’re giving you a billion dollars’ worth of our money; at least fill in the blanks. Please correct the blatant errors; please show us you care about accounting for how you are going to spend our monies, and tell us on what you are going to spend it.’ That’s all we were saying. We know that on money matters, the powers of the Senate are limited; but pay attention to what we are saying; we are in fact being asked to pay the bills. The big thing on the Budget was we were very disappointed that while the consumers of this country were being asked to pay more in taxes; we were expecting that the Government would seriously look at cutting its expenses and we did not see that; and as a matter of fact, the areas that they purport to support are the areas that were really cut, when it came to business and pro-poor.”