A $100,000 funding allocation for the support of the Electoral Boundary Commission was defeated in the Finance Committee last Thursday night when Opposition members outnumbered Government members when the vote was called.
The item would have allowed for preliminary work from the Elections Office for the process of Constitutional Reform including work on electoral boundary proposals, consultations with Constitutional Reform working groups and amendments to the current elections legislation.
Before the vote, Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush asked if there were any plans for the government to re-establish the Electoral Boundaries Commission during the coming fiscal year, and if not, why the money was being allocated for something that was not there.
Chief Officer of the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs Donovan Ebanks responded to the questions.
‘We are anticipating there will be some developments with Constitutional Reform (during the coming fiscal year),’ he said, explaining that while there is no exact timeframe for developments, the government thought it wise to put allocate some funding to the item in case it was needed.
If the money wasn’t needed, it would not be spent, Mr. Ebanks said.
The vote was taken immediately afterwards with all five of the Opposition members voting no. However, only Cabinet Minister Arden McLean and backbenchers Lucille Seymour, Alfonso Wright and Moses Kirkconnell were in the chamber to represent the Government.
Mr. Bush called for a division of the vote, upon which several of the Government members re-entered the chamber and attempted to vote.
However, it was pointed out that Standings Orders did not allow that, and the final vote division showed four votes in favour of the item, five votes against, and six members absent.
After consulting with the Government bench, Finance Committee Chairman Kenneth Jefferson indicated that the Government might bring the item back to the House as a supplemental budget item at a later date.