The Briceno administration, after having introduced a new budget for the fiscal year 2021 at the end of March, has tabled a bill that would make way for an act to appropriate additional sums of money for use within the existing financial calendar. It was the first of two proposed laws described as General Revenue Supplementary Appropriation Bills. The government of the People’s United Party, returning to parliament six months into the new fiscal year to have approved extra monies to carry over the public service until March 2022, has been met with cold water by the opposition. According to Leader of the Opposition, Patrick Faber, what is being presented before the House of Representatives is lacking in details, something that the former Chair of the Public Accounts Committee railed against when he was on the other side of the floor.
Patrick Faber, Leader of the Opposition
“We have to determine that what he is asking us to approve today, in retrospect, is basically what they overspent. He came to this honorable house, for instance, Madam Speaker, and said that they only bought, I don’t remember the exact number now but actually specify what vehicles were bought but now we’re seeing in the supplementary that almost half a million was spent on vehicles between his Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Health. We see, Madam Speaker, again some spending that has happened here with very little details happening, something that the member for Cayo South use to complain profusely about but now he seems to be presiding over.”
Julius Espat, Minister of Infrastructure Development
“Just in response to the Leader of the Opposition, most of the projects that are being mentioned are projects that we inherited in the pipeline. The Caracol Road, for example, is one of them. So it’s not a project that was initiated by us, but in reality, it’s a project that we saved twenty-eight million dollars on, something that you all did not even conceive of. The other one is the Haulover Bridge, again, a project that we inherited from you all. But look at the figures, we inherited another twenty-eight million dollars on that project by looking at and analyzing the project. So in reality we have saved fifty-six million dollars just on those two projects, Leader of the Opposition.”
Oscar Requena, Area Representative, Toledo West
“You had your turn, it’s our turn. And that’s what we are doing, we are governing this country in a manner that the people are going to benefit and particularly the rural areas that were abandoned are now going to participate meaningfully in the development of this nation. So Madam Speaker, I want to end by saying that I lent my full support to this appropriation bill because we have a government led by our prime minister that has a heart for the people of this country given all the challenges that we have faced because of COVID and the bad economy that we inherited, we are doing a lot.”
PM Briceno Explains Need for Additional Funds
Prime Minister John Briceno explains that the need for additional monies arises from the previous administration not adjusting for the decline in revenue during the 2020 fiscal year. As for the so-called sparse details that were presented with the first supplementary bill, the Minister of Finance castigated the Leader of the Opposition for those comments.
Prime Minister John Briceno
“We have to bring a supplementary bill because you did not make the necessary adjustments, when you were bringing supplementary bills last year you were not making adjustments to your revenue. Your revenue was down by about thirty percent. So obviously if we are operating on what you say we are going to collect, obviously we find out that we are short of money, thanks to you. You did not make the necessary arrangements. That is why now we have to make the necessary adjustments, Madam Speaker. Most of my friends and also the members of this side of the house have been answering to the points, to the case that he has been trying to make and there is no case. You stay di embarrass yohself, my friend. Let me point out something Madam Speaker, he says that we are not giving details. Yoh wahn mek wih put that we wahn buy five pound a soap and so many paper and so many pen? Obviously, that does not belong in a budget. Either you don’t know better or you’re just trying to make mischief, one or the other. You decide, but certainly you are embarrassing yourself. But let me remind you, here we have a supplementary budget that your government presented to the National Assembly on the third of February, 2017, a supplementary budget of fourteen million three hundred thirty-six thousand five hundred and eight dollars. You have one, two, three, four items, four line items and now you cohn ya and cohn complain because we noh put how much paper we di buy? I mean the face of brass of this gentleman dat you wahn cohn complain. For the very first time, we have a government that is giving details on the money that is being spent and you wahn still complain.”