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Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure, Budget postponed

Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure, Budget postponed

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The Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for 2013 will now be presented in the House of Assembly next Tuesday, December 4, with the debate, on the Appropriation Bill, commonly referred to as the Budget debate scheduled to be held on January 14.{{more}}

The Estimates had been scheduled to be presented on November 28, with the budget presentation on Monda. However, speaking at Wednesday’s meeting of the House, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said a number of issues had caused the postponement.

“Because the Estimates were delivered to Honourable members on Monday, I believe even one or two members got them on Tuesday – that clearly was insufficient time for proper presentation to be done in respect of today’s debate and we are always mindful about that, Mr Speaker,” the prime minister said.

He added that although he was given the assurance that the Estimates would have been sent to the printer last week Thursday, the document was not sent until Friday.

“And it’s a long document.”

And even if the document were ready on time, Gonsalves said that he had the funeral of his cousin, George Stilson “Stilly” Fraser, to attend and would have had to leave the House early.

The prime minister further explained that the debate of the Appropriation Bill had to be pushed back because of prior engagements with the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

And he said that he was touched by the report on the Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace, who had also earlier indicated that he feared that his shoulder injury was worse than previously diagnosed.

“And I think it is fair and reasonable for a time to pass for him to recover fully to be able to participate in the debate,” Gonsalves said.

He went on to assure members of the House and the public that having the Appropriation Bill on January 14 in no way compromised the work of the government.

“Because we would have passed the Estimates and the Estimates would provide the basis for the work plan of the public servants; so, when this is passed on Tuesday, between now and the end of the year, the public servants would be at work in respect of their work plans,” Gonsalves said.

He explained that the law allows for the Appropriation Bill to be presented one month after the conclusion of the previous financial year.

The law also allows the government to spend a portion of the approved estimate of the preceding year.

Regarding capital expenditure, Gonsalves said that government has the authority to utilize any portion once passed in the Estimates, but each must be done under a specific warrant.

“So, I assure Honourable members that there is no disruption whatsoever of the plan or the work of the government in accordance with the Estimates which would be passed next week,” the prime minister said. (DD)

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