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SFC meetings not what it used to be — Fraser

Legislators of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition in the House of Assembly. (Julian Fraser in Foreground)

Third District Representative Julian Fraser has said that the Standing Finance Committee (SFC) process has become a mere rubber stamp formality that only sees legislators automatically approving the proposed annual budget without giving proper consideration to what they learn during SFC meetings.

Effectively, the Standing Finance Committee comprises the territory’s legislators who meet with all government departments and statutory bodies annually to examine their operations for the year in review.

“Standing Finance today is far from what it used to be. When we did Standing Finance in the early 2000’s, we actually manipulated the budget. In other words, we went through the budget and we shifted things around based on the discussions we had with department heads and ministries,” Fraser said.

The Opposition legislator said nowadays budgets are brought before the SFC ‘just as a motion’ where no deliberations take place.

“Nothing gets changed, people complain about the lack of resources to execute their mandate, nothing happens they don’t get any more money, they don’t get anything, so it is an exercise,” he said.

Fraser made those comments at a recent media conference after members of the Opposition were asked about the territory experiencing two budgets in a record 10-month period.

Shorter process

In the meantime, Opposition Leader Marlon Penn — who was a member of the previous NDP government — said that the Standing Finance Committee process in the past usually took a month; noting that the 2020 budget was reduced to one and a half weeks.

“The reality is the process was rushed, which is very unfortunate. Our focus was to ensure that the budget process happened. We were given a week and a half to make it happen, we were here, we participated in the process, we made sure that the people of this territory had a budget, we stayed beyond the mandated 9 pm by the Standing Orders to ensure that the budget was passed,” Penn stated.

The 2020 Budget was passed at the Second Sitting of the Second Session of the Fourth House of Assembly to the tune of $414,008,611.00.

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4 Comments

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  1. umpire says:

    THAT’S ONE THING I LIKE ABOUT FRASER…HE CALLS IT AS HE SEES IT…ALWAYS CALLING A SPADE A SPADE

  2. Martin says:

    I have to agree with The Members of her Majesty’s loyal Opposition on this one. There are departments which are key and year after year they are not provided with adequate funding. On the other hand, there are wastage in others including where contracts are awarded based on who supported the Government during the previous election. We need to stop these handouts. Give the money to the department and stat bodies that actually need it.

  3. E. Leonard says:

    If the budget is rubber stamped, just a talk fab and a pretend exercise, it is doing the territory and its citizens a disservice. The budget is a core function that must be actively and vigorously debated, discussed and decided upon line item by line item, making addition to or subtraction from or eliminate as appropriate. It should not be rushed and residents, key stakeholders……etc should be given ample opportunity to comment on the budget.

    The territory does not have the resources to meet its needs in any one year. As such, the budget authorization and appropriation process is critical to allocate scarce resources where it can provide the greatest good to the most people and address the greatest needs.

    IMO, there should be 2 budgets: 1. Operations and Maintenance and 2. Capital. Further, the HOA passing the budget should be the first step——authorization. The second step should be appropriation. Expenditures above a specific dollar value should go back to the HOA for debate and approval or non-approval. For example, expenditures above say $100K should go back to the HOA for approval or non-approval. The exception to this process is a genuine emergency. The Premier should have the authority to declare an emergency for needed goods and services to address an exigent issue up to a certain dollar value. Regardless of the dollar value, every emergency should be reported to the HOA within 24-48 hours.

  4. Vibe Kartel says:

    People if you can see what is about to happen Fraser is right.

    Formality and control to bring about a hidden mandate is what is happening here.

    This Government is still in campaign mode.

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