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Jan 26, 2018

Business Senator Deplores ‘Pathetic’ Excuses for Finance Act Violation

On Thursday, People’s United Party senators Eamon Courtenay and Valerie Woods brought public attention to the lack of accountability and transparency in government expenditures.  This is in respect of monies that were reportedly spent on relief and cleanup in the wake of Hurricane Earl in 2016, as well as unbudgeted funds that were also made available to Belize Infrastructure Limited during 2016 and 2017.  In both instances, Financial Secretary Joseph Waight admits that government did not comply with the terms of the Finance and Audit Reform Act.  That law was enacted by the Barrow administration in 2010, after pointing out various irregularities involving the disbursal of public funds by the previous government.  Not only does that piece of legislation clearly outline the course of action to be taken in the event of an unforeseen expense, as in the case of a natural disaster, it also stipulates penalties for contravention of that process.  The situation regarding BIL does not fall within that category; however, the same consequences apply.  While the opposition has sounded the alarm, its social partners are also weighing in on the issue of government flouting the Finance and Audit Reform Act.  This morning, business senator Mark Lizarraga chimed in on the matter.

 

Mark Lizarraga

Mark Lizarraga, Business Senator

“We continue to raise the point that the rules for dispersing of public monies are not being followed.  You know, the Ministry of Finance, the Minister of Finance and the Financial Secretary have rules that they need to follow, it’s called the Finance and Audit Reform Act.  It’s called the Fiscal Transparency and Responsibility Regulations and they are governed as well by SI Thirty-one of 2010 which imposes penalties and fines on those people that do not follow these acts.  We continue to highlight that the rules clearly state that when monies that were not budgeted for, you have a specific timeframe that you need to report it in, ninety days.  We continue to highlight that if you spend more than ten percent, sorry, that you cannot spend more than ten percent of that which was budgeted in the budget.  You can do so under urgent and unforeseen circumstances.  In the case of the hurricane, that was an urgent and unforeseen circumstance.  Certainly the government had every right, every responsibility, every obligation to spend that money; but it had every right and every obligation to report the spending of that money within ninety days.  We have seen many senate meetings and many house meetings which the government had the opportunity to make these reports and it did not.  The excuses that we got for them not reporting on time, as per the law, quite frankly were pathetic.  We highlighted as well that the regulations are being breached, in that reports and reporting, especially the mid-year report, they have not been compliant with those.  The laws that this very government passed stated that they have to provide reports on a regular basis to the nation.  These reports, I believe, must get the sanction or must be submitted as well to the Auditor General, the Central Bank and other entities.  The regulations clearly state the rules, how these reports should be made, who they should be shared with and how they should be published and when.  None of these, none of the things that this law that really says, it speaks to fiscal transparency and responsibility, are being followed.”

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1 Response for “Business Senator Deplores ‘Pathetic’ Excuses for Finance Act Violation”

  1. spike says:

    Fiscal transparency and accountability are B-O-R-I-N-G. It’s way more fun to be reckless with the people’s money.

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