$205.5M means Gov’t can run

Authorisation to incur nearly $205.5 million in executive financial transactions was approved in the Legislative Assembly Wednesday afternoon.

In a government motion, a pre appropriation budget figure of $197.4 million – to cover the period from July to October – had originally been sought.

But on Wednesday morning, Financial Secretary Kenneth Jefferson successfully brought an amendment to change the figure to a little over $205 million.

And some further fine tuning was needed Wednesday afternoon when he successfully brought a second amendment, which altered the final figure to just short of $205.5 million.

Mr. Jefferson explained the reason that gave rise to the first amendment was human error.

He said a number of items needed to be included that had inadvertently been omitted from the 11 page schedule of figures involved.

The second amendment, he explained, was brought out of an abundance of caution and referred to transfer payments.

Mr. Jefferson told the House that each Ministry had been provided with a target that was equal to four twelfths of the amount approved in the 2004/05 budget appropriation.

They were then asked to review the amounts and asked to explain if their appropriation exceeded the target figure.

It was not surprising that the total slightly exceeded the target figure as the government is operating in a hurricane recovery phase and a number of items reflected this, said Mr. Jefferson.

On the subject of the $47 million in borrowings being sought, the figure represented the balance that remained to be drawn down on the $62 million loan approved for 2004/05, he said.

The amount of potential borrowings was therefore consistent with the loan approved in that year, he told the House.

The government expected to have a balance on its operating bank account of about $44 million on 1 July, he said.

And taking all the various figures into consideration, the expected balance on the operating bank account at the end of October would be $42 million, he said.

And in addition to that, the government did have other accounts, he added.

Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush said he was satisfied for the most part in the motion before the House.

But he said he wished there had been an opportunity to scrutinise the various items in Finance Committee since the total figure was such a large one.

What the government was now doing was exactly what they had themselves opposed during the time of emergency and some might say that was hypocrisy, said Mr. Bush.

But as a reasonable opposition, they would not simply oppose just to hear themselves speak, Mr. Bush told the House.

Making the only other contribution to the debate, MLA Rolston Anglin gave his support to the motion but said he had to voice his concern about the process and the lack of clarity and information that had been forthcoming.

The twice amended motion was passed.

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said the House still had some parliamentary questions yet to deal with and that two government bills – an Immigration Amendment Bill and a Judges Emoluments Bill – were waiting in the wings.

The House was adjourned to a date to be set.

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