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Senate debates: Is Budget ‘copy-and-paste’?

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Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2019. 12:58 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The debate on the 2019-2020 General Revenue and Appropriation Bill has begun in the National Assembly, Belmopan.

 Senator Mark Lizarraga, representing the business community, poured scorn on the Chief Executive Officers and Accounting Officers in charge of assembling the budget and delineating the priorities of each Government department, statutory body, and other organizations for promoting a ‘copy-and-paste’ budget leading to visible errors and miscalculations.

Sen. Lizarraga pointed out that official policy in the area of agriculture seems to favour importation of goods over promoting local production, resulting in what he called a “disconnect” between trade and agriculture.

Added to this was increase, by regulation, in taxes to counter losses in revenue from statutory bodies.

 In the area of oversight, the Auditor General’s office loses seven staff (described as ‘unestablished positions’) at a time when its oversight is needed to review key Government departments. There remains no Contractor General despite the number of contracts being approved.

Sen. Lizarraga described as ‘lip service’ the Government’s approach to approving the United Nations and Organization of American States’ compacts on corruption without putting money in the Budget for it.

And he noted that Belizeans are being squeezed for tax monies to support the Government’s many initiatives without the priorities being presented.

 

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