Government will present the broad strokes of its budget plan for 2020 and 2021 during the next session of the Legislative Assembly.
Premier Alden McLaughlin is expected to lay out the policy goals for the final years of his Progressives-led administration in the Strategic Policy Statement and Finance Minister Roy McTaggart will update members on the economic picture.
The Strategic Policy Statement is essentially a pre-budget budget that sets the template from which government’s detailed spending plan will be formulated.
The next Legislative Assembly session starts on Wednesday, April 3. A precise order of business has yet to be drawn up, and it is likely the Strategic Policy Statement will be given in the second week of the session.
McTaggart said, “I will speak to the SPS and the broad principles of what the government intends to accomplish over the next two years and set the broad limits in terms of our spending estimates, revenues and proposed capital expenditures.
“The premier will talk about the policy plans and I will deliver the broad economic outlook and updates as well as the broad numbers we are going to be working with.”
The house will then vote to affirm the strategic policy statement as the basis on which the full budget will be formulated.
McTaggart added, “I expect it will be a positive outlook. From all we can see right now the economic outlook is very good. On the revenue side, things are looking strong. Real estate activity is high, tourism is growing. All the major segments of the economy are functioning well.”
The finance minister will also table a supplementary budget for 2019 to cover additional spending not included in the original plan, drawn up in late 2017.
That could include additional spending for the iguana cull, as well as money to help deal with some of the issues highlighted in the recent money laundering report.
Some of the bills up for debate in the next session, include amendments to the Builders Bill and a Health Care Decisions Bill.
The healthcare bills expressly outlaws euthanasia or assisted suicide and creates a framework for people to create ‘advance healthcare directives’ – setting out their wishes for medical treatment should they become terminally ill or mentally impaired.
The Builder’s Bill amendments seek to change the composition of the Builder’s Board, which assess applications from contractors to qualify in various categories.
The Design Rights Bill, which seeks to allow the registration of designs locally, the Bills of Exchange (Amendment) Bill and the Trusts (Amendment) Bill will also be debated.
The agenda also features a number of Opposition private members’ motions.
Bodden Town West MLA Chris Saunders has a motion calling for free basic healthcare for children, which is carried over from the last session. Saunders also plans to table a motion seeking to raise the retirement age for civil servants to 70. He said older citizens who were willing and able to work should not be forced into retirement. He hopes the private sector will also consider following suit.
Saunders told the Compass he is also seconding a motion from East End legislator Arden McLean encouraging government to look at the number of cars coming into the country from Japan and to consider restrictions on vehicle imports.
Newlands legislator Alva Suckoo is bringing a motion calling on government to implement anti-bullying legislation by the end of the year.
He said he was personally aware of children in his district who had attempted suicide. He said draft legislation that would give schools guidance on how to deal with bullying had been in progress for some time, but had yet to be implemented.
“The anti-bullying group that I work with is getting quite frustrated,” he said.
“I’m asking that we get it done by the end of the year.” Opposition leader Ezzard Miller is also bringing two private members’ motions.
He wants government to agree to amend the Bail Law. Citing a case in his constituency, where he said an individual was arrested three times within a short period for drugs charges and bailed on all three occasions, he said changes were needed.
Miller is also bringing a motion related to concessions for hotel developers. He said the Hotel Aid Law sets out strict legal guidelines for what concessions can be offered in what circumstances. He said government should either stick to that law or amend it, rather than offering tailored concessions packages to developers.