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Mar 16, 2020

$25M Earmarked as Relief Aid for Tourism Sector

The budget debate that has been scheduled for March nineteenth and twentieth hangs in the balance, as government is yet to formally agree on whether those consecutive House meetings should be postponed for a period of three months.   Likewise, there is consideration that the parliamentary proceeding can be held in a single sitting with presentations by the Opposition only, should the United Democratic Party choose to forego its right of response.  At the next House meeting, however, an Appropriations Bill will be passed, including a twenty-five million-dollar loan to be used as relief for employees within the embattled tourism sector, who are most affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

 

Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“First of all, the actual budget debate scheduled for Thursday and Friday is up in the air.  We talked about the possibility of not doing the debate at all, but there is a need to pass the General Appropriations Bill and so while we could postpone that for three months, I think it is, it would limit our spending.  In other words, that could in effect mean that instead of a twelve-month budget, we‘d be doing a fifteen-month budget and because we don‘t want to be hemmed in since there will have to be accelerated spending to try to deal with the economic impacts of the crisis, the better course of action is to try to pass the General Appropriations Bill and to add to that by way of an additional allocation that we would propose when we reach the committee stage of another twenty-five million dollars.  That would be earmarked specially and exclusively for the underpinning of our response to the economic effects of the COVID-19 crisis.  Now, you know how it is, the leader has been extremely accommodating.  He’s made the point and on that we‘re in total agreement that we have to put aside differences in times of national unity.  But, insofar as the debate is concerned, the leader made the case that this is a time when his own members feel an urgent need to express their concerns, criticisms of the budget in the context of trying to advocate for their people.  So while we had hoped that the budget could be passed without any kind of a rancorous debate, it doesn‘t seem that to the extent we envisaged it will be possible.”


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