Any Budget Now Would be Unconstitutional Says Hamilton

Hamilton, who is the parliamentarian for Constituency Number Eight, used his presentation at a public meeting on Thursday night, (14th March), in Conaree, to pour more pressure on the government and the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. Denzil Douglas, to bring the much delayed Motion of No Confidence, saying that he should stop dodging the issue and using all types of tactics to delay the inevitable. He claimed that the Prime Minister is using the budget as an excuse to delay the motion.

However, other speakers on the PAM platform have advanced the suggestion that it was the prime minister himself, who in early December last year, cancelled the session of the parliament that was scheduled to hear the budget. They say that he should not now be seeking to scare the public sector workers, trying to convince them that their salaries are at risk, and it would be the fault of the opposition.

Mr. Hamilton however reminded the public on Thursday that though the Minister of Finance, failed to bring the budget in December, he is still allowed 60 days to present the “money Bill”.

He said this is provided for in Section 71 of the constitution and therefore in some years, this would be extended to as far as 1st March or 2nd March. So, it is a well-known fact, he added,  that the minister is required to lay a budget before parliament before the year begins, but he has an opportunity to do it up to sixty days after the year begins (in January). “If he does not bring the budget in 60 days it means he is out of time. If he fails to do so, it means that anything he does after that is a violation of the constitution,” charged Hamilton.

Hamilton made references to three relevant sections of the constitution of St. Kitts & Nevis to support his argument and which he said fully outline what is required; the first of which is shared below:

Authorization of Expenditure from Consolidated Fund by the Appropriation Law

71.- (1) The Minister for the time being responsible for finance shall cause to be prepared and laid before the National Assembly before, or not later than sixty days after, the commencement of each financial year estimates of the revenues and expenditure of the Government for that financial year.

Hamilton also explained that the Prime Minister has been lying to the people, claiming that government workers would not be paid, when in fact he knows this is not the case. The MP said he is of the view that the constitution also allows for certain special measures to be instituted to meet government expenditure that might be needed.

Hamilton said Section 71. – (2) states as follows, When the estimates of expenditure (other than expenditure charged upon the Consolidated Fund by this Constitution or by any law enacted by Parliament) have been approved by the National Assembly, a bill known as an appropriation bill, shall be introduced in the Assembly providing for the issue from the Consolidated Fund of the sums, under separate votes for the several services required, to the purposes specified therein.

The other section of relevance he said was 72. – (3), which says, if in respect of any financial year it is found-

a) that the amount appropriated by the appropriation law to any purpose is insufficient or that a need has arisen for expenditure for a purpose to which no amount has been appropriated by that law; or

b) that any moneys have been expended for any purpose in excess of the amount appropriated to that purpose by the appropriation law or for a purpose to which no amount has been appropriated by that law, a supplementary estimate showing the sums required or spent shall be laid before the National Assembly and, when the supplementary appropriation shall be introduced in the Assembly providing for the issue of such sums from the Consolidated Fund and appropriating them to the purposes specified therein.

However Hamilton was firm in his view that despite these options available to the government, it does not negate the fact that the deadline for the presentation of the budget has expired because the 60 days have passed and this means that if Dr. Douglas comes now with a budget, “It might look like a budget, it might sound like a budget, but it is not a budget within the constitution and if he brings a budget now and begins to spend money because of what he brings…I am saying to him tonight that he may be held personally accountable and liable for any money he spends, which is brought under the new budget because he should a done bring de budget.”

So the road for him is not to go to a budget, but to call the elections or have a vote of no confidence, suggested Hamilton. But the PAM official further argued that the Prime Minister feels that for him to call the election, he has to have money, and he has to have a budget but, he lie again, because Section 73 which deals with Warrants for unforeseen expenditure, says,

73. – (1) If it appears to the Minister for the time being responsible for finance that-

a) there is an urgent need to incur expenditure;

b) no provision exist for that expenditure in any appropriation law or other law; and

c) it would not be in the public interest to delay the authorization of that expenditure until such time as a supplementary estimate can be laid before the National Assembly, the Minister may, by special warrant, authorize the issue from the Consolidated Fund of the money required to meet that expenditure:

Provided that the total such for the time being authorized to be issued under this subsection, for which no provisions has been made by an appropriation law, shall not exceed such amount as may be prescribed by Parliament.

(2) Where in any financial year any expenditure has been authorized by special warrant under subsection (1) the Minister for the time being responsible for finance shall cause a supplementary estimate relating to that expenditure to be laid before the National Assembly at the first sitting of the Assembly occurring after the expiration of fourteen days from the date of the warrant and a supplementary appropriation bill shall be introduced in the Assembly providing for the issue of the sums authorized to be spent and appropriating them to the purposed specified therein.

He can do a special warrant to provide the money to have the election he don’t need no budget to have no election so don’t leh he fool nobody. Tell him you could read your constitution just like him,” argued Hamilton.

“So when you hear Douglas talking, running and hiding behind budget, tell him stop run, stop hide, time to call the election. He also suggested that the government is engaged in a public relations exercise with the opening of various facilities, and telling the public servants about health insurance and promising pension and gratuity to factory workers. Hamilton told his supporters that the public should tell the Prime Minister that that is not working and is not fooling anyone.

The time has come for us to make a change in government the time has come for a new government suggested the PAM Deputy Leader.





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