Opposition leader to respond to budget

| 18/06/2010

(CNS): The debate on the premier’s budget presentation, his first as minister of finance, opens this morning with the opposition’s response. The leader of the PPM, Kurt Tibbetts, will be the first member of the House to comment on McKeeva Bush’s over three hour budget speech presented to the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday. Tibbetts is likely to question the reliability of government’s earnings forecast given the recent prediction inaccuracies. Not only did the PPM face a massive shortfall after predictions from the Financial Secretary’s Office proved inaccurate in 08/09, in the last budget in October the UDP had predicted a $5million plus surplus for the end of this financial year, which will now be close to a $50million deficit. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

The failure of the government’s significant fee increases, such as work permit and business fees, to generate anything like the revenue hoped for and the absence of comment by the premier on the significant rise in violent crime in the country are also likely to be addressed by the opposition leader. The opposition is also probably going to request more details on planned divestments and the government’s plans for the two high schools, as it appears from the budget presentation that it will be placing the Clifton Hunter campus on hold.
Ezzard Miller, the only independent member in the House and the representative for North Side, is likely to make the most of his allotted time. With a reputation for scrutinizing the financial element and paying close attention to detail, Miller is likely to raise a number of questions for government regarding the budget and in particular how it will benefit or disadvantage his constituents.
The budget debate could last several days as all members of the legislature are allowed two hours to add their comments and suggestions for improving the government’s fiscal plans for 2010/11 or, in the case of ministers, give the House, and by extension the public, an overview of what they will be doing with the money appropriate to their respective ministries for this year.
Once the contributions are all made, the premier will exercise his right to reply and consider any proposals that have been made to improve the country’s fiscal plans before the members adjourn the sitting and move into Finance Committee, where they will scrutinise the allocations for government departments and agencies.
With spending cuts across the public sector of around 11 percent this year, the committee is expected to question how this will impact government departments, agencies, statutory authorities and government companies, and the services they provide.
Check back to CNS later today for more on the budget debate.
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