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Mar 15, 2018

G.O.B. relaxes financial restrictions to keep up with the times

Mark Lizarraga

Also from the Senate, similar to the Stores Orders Regulations, the Financial Orders Regulations, last amended in 1992, are being amended to release restrictions on accounting officers to make contracts for services and tenders. Answering the concerns of Business Senator Mark Lizarraga that more prudence should be in place in this time of fiscal consolidation, Leader of Government Business Godwin Hulse maintained that while times and prices had changed; the Government’s commitments have not.

 

Mark Lizarraga, Senator, Business Community

“Mr. President and colleagues, again we question, from a strictly administrative standpoint, colleagues, is it wise and prudent in these days, when people are calling for more accountability, for us to be relaxing, so to speak, the limits under which political persons can now instruct professional persons what to buy, from whom to buy, up to a certain level. We certainly advise against it, and we certainly look forward at some time to hearing from the Auditor General, if this was one of her recommendations for strengthening and tightening the way we use, and in many times abuse, of the spending of the public purse.”

 

Godwin Hulse, Leader of Government Business

“We have to remember that this is not an open-ended thing where there is a kitty of money that the accounting officer will dabble in. these stem from a budget with heads and subheads which are controlled tightly. So if your head and then your subhead has twenty thousand dollars, that da weh you deh; it’s not open-ended. But what are we doing here? These are not new regulations. And I want to remind this Honorable House, that from 2005 to 2008, we had no regulations, because the Honorable Ralph Fonseca suspended them when he was Minister of Budget Planning, and the Finance and Audit Act, Section twenty-three-seven if I remember well, was suspended; it was brought back into force under this Government in 2008; I insisted that it come back in. What are we doing here? The old law says, and I will read it: “verbal contracts” – so there were always verbal contracts – “may be made for works and services under a thousand; accounting officers may make contracts to a limit of twenty, with the approval of their Minister” – it was always there. And tenders shall normally be invited for contracts over ten thousand, and tenders shall be invited for contracts over twenty thousand and that is the 701. So nothing in the structure has changed; it’s just the quantum. And the quantum has changed, Mr. President, because as I said before, back in 1965 and 1992, the prices of things were so completely different. And if you go way back in history, when I was a little boy – fortunately for me, my dad had won a lottery and he won a car from the-then Santiago Castillo; brand new Vauxhall for eight hundred dollars – try buying a new car now. I started at Royal Bank of Canada in 1964 and my salary was twenty-five dollars a month. A bicycle was seventy-two dollars, I see “San Cas” and dehn boy di ride racer bike now for six, ten, twenty, thirty thousand dollars. So all this is intended to do is to allow some efficiency, but it doesn’t remove the checks, it doesn’t remove the balances. They still have to go through SmartStream – the finance officer still has to do it, the accounting officer still has to do it. No Minister is on SmartStream – no pay, no nothing, etcetera.”

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