Posted: Thursday, March 14, 2019. 3:03 am CST.
By Aaron Humes: The first and second reading of the 2019-2020 General Revenue and Appropriation Bill, otherwise known as “The Budget,” takes place on Friday morning, March fifteenth at the National Assembly in Belmopan.
According to reports, the Government has set a tight time limit on the forthcoming debate, which takes place the following Thursday, March twenty-first and Friday, March twenty-second. Both Houses must approve the Budget by the end of the current fiscal year on March thirty-first.
After a tough time in the last few years, Financial Secretary Joseph Waight says there’s not much to be surprised about. The national debt continues to expand; Government may likely seek more tax measures to help balance the budget, and at the same time find ways to cut costs.
Waight said in February, “We are trying to close it; that is balance the expenditure against the revenue. There is no big – at least up to now, there is no big surprises in the budget. It is going to be fairly routine. We have other things that preoccupy our minds at the moment.”
According to Cayo South P.U.P. representative and chairman of the Public Accounts Committee Julius Espat, the presentation was originally scheduled for Friday, March eighth, but the Government was running late.
He told reporters that the actual presentation is “meaningless because nothing in there makes any difference except paying the bills of the salaries of people.” He says it will be that much tougher to review the heavy budget book given out each year in half the amount of time it usually takes.
Government’s approach, Espat claims, is to put out fires as they come along and the use of supplementary bills negates the intent of the main bill. The bottom line, he says, is that “the people’s money is not spent in a transparent way, in an accountable way and in my opinion it leads to what we have right now which is four billion dollars in debt.”
Espat and the P.U.P. have filed a lawsuit related to the use of supplementary bills by the Government against the Finance and Audit Reform Act and the Constitution.
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