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Jan 26, 2018

N.G.O. Senator Joins in on Government Condemnation

Earlier we heard from Private Sector Senator Mark Lizarraga on dated government expenditure that has just gone before the senate.  Senator Osmany Salas, who represents the N.G.O. community, also spoke on government’s extreme tardiness in bringing forward the expenditure for approval from the senate.  It has been seventeen months since Hurricane Earl devastated parts of the country and he noted that government has clearly defied the ninety-day stipulation in the Finance and Audit Reform Act.

 

On the Phone: Osmany Salas, N.G.O. Senator

“The Cap Two money was for expenditures approved by the Ministry of Finance between May 2016 and August 2017 for Hurricane Earl assistance, mostly for that but there was also about two hundred and ten thousand dollars approved in May 2016 for what they called a Mother’s Day Appreciation Program.  The Cap Three money, seven point three million was approved in eight different traunches between December 2016 and March 2017 for Belize Infrastructure Limited projects.  I asked the Ministry of Finance, in preparation for the debate, for additional information and I did get some more information on the type of hurricane assistance, mostly in terms of the month in which those monies were approved by the Ministry of Finance, not much more information than that.  In terms of the BIL project, I wasn’t able to get additional information.  So, you know, this means, as I mentioned in the senate that the government was in effect asking us to approve expenses that were already approved by the Ministry of Finance and spent in the last fiscal year, 2016/2017, and I note that we are nine months into the current fiscal year which is 2017/2018.  It is important to note that there are different ways as stipulated in the Finance and Audit Reform Act in which central government can issue supplementary appropriations to itself.  In this particular case, the supplementary appropriation came under the special warrant section, I think that’s Section Five of the Finance and Audit Reform Act where it says that government, where it sees an urgent need, they could, and which cannot wait, without, you know, serious injury to the public interest, they could proceed and allocate themselves these monies.  But, Isani, and I need to mention this, even though we have to, we need to admit that it is the duty and obligation of the government to quickly move to approve and disburse monies to assist after a hurricane, there is that section of the Finance and Audit Reform Act that says that they must take this to the house for approval within three months of the date of any such special warrant, within three months.  So that really means that the hurricane was August 2016, three months after that would have been November 2016.  This bill was taken to the senate ten months after the 2016/2017 fiscal year, which makes it seventeen months after Hurricane Earl made landfall in Belize.”

 

As we said, it is a rare occurrence that all social partners were on the same side.

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