No Parliament, No Budget Debate

This is what the Prime Minister revealed, “The Presentation of the Fiscal Year 2013 Budget had long been scheduled for tomorrow, December 11, 2012. Indeed, this morning, (Monday 10th), Cabinet met in order to affirm and solidify our support, as a Cabinet, for this important Budget, the mechanism via which our hospitals are funded, our energy imports made possible, our old-age pensioners and social safety-net programs supported, and our civil servants and auxiliary workers paid. However, there are two members who never arrived at this morning’s Cabinet meeting. Nor did they attend at an earlier December 5, 2012 Cabinet meeting at which the Budget was also discussed.”

For the Prime Minister, and as he stated, the 2013 Budget is of utmost importance to the well-being of the nation. 

“So is the unanimous participation of all members of Cabinet in our pre-Budget sessions so as to ensure that this vital legislative initiative, on which so much and so many in our nation depend, does indeed become law,” opined Dr. Douglas. 

He said, up to 7:30 p.m. on Monday evening, the members did not arrive to Cabinet. As a consequence, said the Prime Minister, “We have taken a decision to postpone the Budget Presentation originally scheduled for Tuesday December 11, 2012.” 

“I wish to stress that all Cabinet members, save two, were present at today’s pre-Budget Cabinet meeting. And all who attended have made clear their complete support for the Government’s 2013 Budget. Please be advised that once all Cabinet members are able to meet as one body, without any absence, in order to clarify each Member’s position on our Government’s 2013 Budget, a new date will be announced for my Government’s Budget Presentation, without delay.”

However, though the Budget debate was scheduled for today Tuesday 11th December, it was also the date on which the Resolution of no confidence in the Prime Minister and the government was to be tabled and debated.

It was the strong view of many close to the two Cabinet ministers that they were willing to support the four (4) opposition members in the vote to force the resignation of the prime minister and government.

It is this vote and not the budget debate that opposition forces charge however, was the motivation for the Prime Minister’s decision to cancel the budget presentation for today, Tuesday, 11th December.

This was the second last minute cancellation of the National Assembly in the past five days. Last Friday, 7th December, the Assembly was expected to meet to discuss a bill to increase the number of un-elected senators, but two hours after the debate was to have started, it was announced that the sitting was cancelled for the day, due to the illness of the Speaker, Curtis Martin.

No specific dates have been announced for the resumption of either debate.

It would appear therefore that St. Kitts and Nevis may begin the new fiscal year, from 1st January, 2013, without an approved Budget, that is required to authorize government expenditure for the next 12 months.

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