Finance Minister Winston Jordan called a press conference this afternoon to remind the public that when it comes to Constitutional agencies and their budgets, those agencies are independent and therefore would face the same fate as budget agencies.
He said whenever the budget for Constitutional agencies come up in the National Assembly, there would be a “song and dance” on the issues surrounding their budgets.
“Their budgets are no longer submitted to the Ministry of Finance. So that’s an important departure. They are no longer submitted to the Ministry of Finance. They do not have to consult the Ministry of Finance when putting together their budgets. All they are required to do, is to follow the circular but they are bound by the budget circular”, Jordan explained.
He said once those budgets are put together by the Constitutional agencies, all they are required to do is to submit a copy to the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Minister of Finance. The Speaker’s copy would then be made available to the National Assembly.
According to Minister Jordan, the law then allows for the Minister of Finance to make a recommendation on the budget for the Constitutional agencies to the National Assembly and provide reasons for the recommendation.
Minister Jordan told reminded reporters that once the budget for the Constitutional agencies is passed by the National Assembly, there could be no altering of the budget by the Minister of Finance. The full National Assembly would be the only body with the authority to alter the budgets.
The Ministry of Finance would then have 28 days to provide all of the money catered for in the budget for those Constitutional agencies to them.
The Finance Minister said that he thought it important to address the issue so that persons could get a full and clear understanding of how the budget for the Constitutional agencies are dealt with, adding that it should make it should explain why he would not be in a position to answer questions for those agencies in the National Assembly.
He said in the past, he has recommended that the Assembly goes into a committee to deal with questions for the Constitutional agencies, but that suggestion was shut down by the Opposition.
The National Budget will be presented in November, but the National Assembly is currently looking at the budgets for the various constitutional agencies.