Posted: Wednesday, July 7, 2021. 9:08 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: In an effort to correct issues with spending and conform with the Constitution and Finance and Audit (Reform) Act, the Senate approved an amendment to the latter establishing a Contingency Fund for the collection and payout of funds for “urgent and unforeseen expenditure” related to emergencies.
The Fund is contemplated by Section 117 of the Constitution, standing alongside the Consolidated Revenue Fund, Development Fund and so on, as well as consistent with Section 5 of the FARA.
The Fund collects monies appropriated for public emergencies under section 18; urgent and unforeseen expenditure; grants and loans to Government for public emergencies, and any other monies. If, for instance, Taiwan or international organizations like the Red Cross, it counts as “any other money” and belongs to the Fund.
Leader of Government Business Senator Eamon Courtenay says the rules still apply: the Minister must sign a special warrant and present it to the National Assembly, who must authorize it. The relevant Minister must also present estimates of what the amount of revenue and expenditure will be and the balance that carries over, except only in cases of urgent and unforeseen expenses (which means exactly what it says, Courtenay pointed out). Monies used will be audited by the Auditor General as provided for by the Constitution.
But he did concede that a limit was needed on expenditure by the Minister without prior parliamentary approval, in line with the Finance and Audit Reform Act for the Consolidated Revenue Fund. He agreed to move the amendment in the Committee of the Whole Senate, which was done.
The Bill goes back to the House for its approval because of the amendment.
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