Another postponement for presentation of Montserrat budget – no date…
Following the report of the postponement of the Montserrat budget, which normally comes only after its approval by Her Majesty’s Government in the UK, a statement had said, “The postponement is occasioned by the change in UK Ministerial responsibility, which has caused a delay in the approval of Montserrat’s Financial Aid Business Case by the UK Minister.”
The statement had said, supported by a short report by the Premier on radio, that the postponement of the budget presentation, usually due by March 31 each year, would take place on April 13, 2017 and that Premier Donaldson Romeo, who is also of Finance will authorise funds through the Consolidated Fund “to allow government spending to continue until passage of the Appropriation Act in April.
This authorisation was effected through a Provisional General Warrant, addressed to the Accountant General by the Minister of Finance, approved by Cabinet on Thursday, March 23.
Two weeks later the Premier is forced to issue a new release informing further reasons. “I’m advised that there is a greater scrutiny over DfID itself in London and in turn over our budget and that has caused further delay.” He said.
A new release issued: “…confirm that Premier Romeo has signed the “Provisional General Warrant” allowing the government ministries to continue to spend funds from April 1, until the budget is approved.”
“We confirm that we have yet to receive any confirmation from DFID (Department for International Development) with regards to Montserrat’s Financial Aid Business Case as the Ministers of DFID have yet to complete their review.”
But, with the postponement date of April 13 only one week away the Premier did not give a new date when he expected to be in a position to present the budget as Minister of Finance. He however drew attention to the fact that Montserrat was not alone in having delayed budget approval by the UK, citing St. Helena who was able to implement a ‘roll over budget’ until their final budget is approved.
News out of St. Helena, confirmed, “A formal meeting of Legislative Council took place Thursday, March 30, 2017. The Order Paper for the meeting includes four Motions, three of which deals with two Bills and the Roll Over Budget, six Questions for oral reply and ten Sessional Papers.”
The report explained, “The Roll Over Budget is necessary as confirmation has not yet been received from DFID as to the financial settlement for the next financial year.”
Just as this report continues, as statement from the Minister of Finance’s office could have said: “…Consequently,… when the Appropriation Bill is presented it will be done at a future meeting of LegAss, details of when, will be published as soon as possible.
Prior to 2015, the previous government for consecutive years presented what we referred to as ‘sham budgets’ which were seem similar to the roll-over budget used in St. Helena. The Assembly on those occasions went through the motions, and it was not based on the final UK approved budget.