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PM: $60 billion Budget coming

By Andre Bagoo Saturday, August 30 2014

click on pic to zoom in
DEFENDING BILL: Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar makes a point in defence of the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2014 in the Senate on Thursday nig...
DEFENDING BILL: Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar makes a point in defence of the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2014 in the Senate on Thursday nig...

THE 2014/ 2015 Budget will be “more or less” $60 billion, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said yesterday as the Cabinet held a second Budget caucus ahead of the planned September 8 Budget presentation.

The Budget caucus – including Finance and Economy Minister Larry Howai – held a meeting last Friday and was also due to meet yesterday. Going into the meeting, Persad-Bissessar said the caucus will be looking at measures to affect the lives of a wide cross-section of society.

“We are looking at ways to provide to every sector of society and its groupings,” Persad-Bissessar said. “Several measures, not necessarily financial payments, are proposed. We are seeking to improve the life of the more vulnerable; the working class; middle-class people and also the elderly. Across the age groups, different demographic have different priorities. Below age 20, you are concerned with education; between 30 to 40 you are concerned with housing; when you enter your 50s some are looking at retirement.”

The last Budget was $61.4 billion.

The Budget is due to be presented by Howai in the House of Representative on September 8. Under the new Standing Orders, the response of the Opposition Leader, Dr Keith Rowley, is due on September 12. The Budget debate then takes place over four further days.

Rowley, who is currently in London and due to visit Germany this weekend, told Newsday he is preparing for the Budget debate. He indicated that while he is overseas, he is “learning about the business world and meeting people who are away from home.”

Further, the Standing Finance Committee will then meet, chaired by House Speaker Wade Mark, in public for the first time. Under the new provisions, the Opposition is to file notice of specific heads of expenditure they may wish to query. A maximum of five days is allotted for the examination of the estimates in the committee, together with the Appropriation Bill. The new procedure will see the Committee empowered, “to send for relevant accounting officers and technocrats to provide information to the Committee”.

The Opposition Leader also has a specific role to play. According to Standing Order 83 (3), “the Leader of the Opposition shall have the right to determine the order in which the heads of expenditure shall be considered and shall notify the Speaker and the Government in writing on the day named by the Minister for resumption of the debate on the Appropriation Bill for approval of the Estimates of expenditure provided that in the event of failure of the Opposition to exercise.” At the Committee, amendments are possible, with one day’s notice.

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