Public Management Law targeted

Budget delayed until mid-May

The Legislative Assembly State
Opening and Budget Meeting, which was scheduled to begin on Friday, has been
postponed until a date to be announced.

Deputy Clerk of the Legislative
Assembly Sharon Smith sent out an email that attached a notice of the
postponement from Clerk Zena Merren at 2:35pm last Friday.

The notice also said that the
fourth meeting of the 2009-2010 Session of the Legislative Assembly would
reconvene on Thursday 29 April at 10am.

However, less than two hours later,
Ms Smith sent out another email to Members of the Legislative Assembly stating
“please see attached letter, which supersedes the one sent out earlier this
afternoon.”

In the second email, Ms Merren
wrote that the fourth meeting of the 2009-2010 Session of Legislative Assembly
would reconvene at 1pm Wednesday to consider an amendment to the Public
Management and Finance Law (2005) and other government business.

Several of the PMFL amendments bill
deal with the information commissioners, but one dealt with when the budget has
to be presented every year.

“Clause 5 amends section 24(1) of
the principal Law to require that the annual plan and estimates for a financial
year be presented for review prior to the start of that financial year, rather
than on the first of May in each year,” the bill’s memorandum of objects and
reasons stated.

The amendment, if approved in the
House, will mean that the budget won’t have to be presented until 30 June,
since the new financial year starts 1 July.

If the budget is presented that
late, the government would have to operate on an interim budget until the new
budget is debated and passed and Finance Committee is convened.  

On Tuesday, Press Secretary to the
Premier Charles Glidden issued a news release stating the presentation of the
budget would be delayed and that the government aimed to bring the budget to
the Legislative Assembly by mid-May.

“There
are two reasons for the delay,” Mr. Glidden stated. “First, government
continues to seek reductions in next year’s budget and the civil service is
still working to make further cuts to the budget. 

“The
Government believes that it is better to achieve realistic and meaningful budget
reductions by delaying the budget presentation rather than rushing to meet the
PMFL deadline.”

The
second reason for delaying the budget is that it includes borrowing that must
be approved by the UK, Mr. Glidden stated.

“[B]ecause
the UK Government has called elections, the current minister responsible for
overseas territories cannot approve the borrowing needed for Cayman’s budget,”
he said. “In the UK, once elections are called the current minister cannot bind
the incoming minister to such approvals.”

Mr.
Glidden said that in order to have obtained the approval of the current minister,
the budget would have had to have been ready before 5 April.  

“Therefore,
the UK’s approval of Cayman’s 2010/11 budget will not come until after the UK’s
general election on 6 May.”

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