Not Again

Melissa Edwards, Senior Reporter | 2 Opinions
Published: May 18, 2017 8:12 am AST
Photo Credit: Melissa Edwards/BVI Platinum News
The Territory's leader does not foresee the Governor issuing another warrant to withdraw monies from the Consolidated Fund.

Opposition Member, Hon. Julian Fraser recently asked Premier and Finance Minister, Hon. Dr. D. Orlando Smith in the House of Assembly, if he is concerned that it is going to be a norm, where the Governor exercises his constitutional powers as was the recent case when monies were provided to the police.

"Are you concerned this is going to be a norm? How are you going to manage the budget of the Territory if these are the conditions under which you have to operate?" Hon. Fraser asked.

"No, I don’t expect this to be a norm," Premier Smith said. Hon. Fraser then asked, "Why, because this Governor is leaving now?"

The public embarrassment occurred in March, when Governor John Duncan made the historic move for government to make available $1.8M for the police force and legal system.

Hon. Fraser asked the Premier how he plans on making up for this shortfall, and if he intends to reduce any sub-heads to cover the Governor’s warrant, which sub-heads and by how much.

However, Premier Smith said that there is no intention to reduce any sub-heads to cover the warrant, because the monies are being withdrawn from the Consolidated Fund.

The Third District Representative also sought to find out whether the Governor had asked the Premier to include in the 2017 budget, his $1,880,000 request as a condition for signing the Appropriation Act 2017, which he signed on March 20th, only days after stating his intentions to issue a warrant.

"The inclusion of the items listed under the Governor’s warrant was not a condition when signing the Appropriation Act 2017," Premier Smith said.

Hon. Fraser further pressed if, "The Premier doesn't think that would have been the preferred means for the Governor to follow, as opposed to using heavy handedness to embarrass you to take money out of the Consolidated Fund?"

Premier Smith agreed to some extent.

"Yes, there would normally be a conversation and there are monies placed in the budget for the things requested by various ministries, but of course when you have a budget, it's not everything each Ministry wants can be purchased," Premier Smith said.

However, Hon. Fraser, who is no fan of Governor Duncan, said that the Governor should take equal blame for the police not having enough finances because he is aware before hand what's inside the budget.

"The budget is a partnership. This government under the Minister of Finance, cannot have a budget unless the Governor signs the Appropriate Act, and if he does not get what he wants in this budget, then he wouldn’t sign the Appropriation Act."

He said, "He is partied to the budget."

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