LEGCO APPROVES $17MILLION FOR EXTRA EXPENDITURE
Speaker the Honourable Reuben Vanterpool recessed the Fifth Sitting of the Second Session of Fourteenth Legislative Council at around 5:25 pm on Tuesday to allow legislators ample time to address the remaining issues on the Order of the Day.
This, after they spent close to five hours in committee stage debating a motion brought by Chief Minister Hon. Ralph T. O’Neal for LegCo to approve monies to be expended in excess of the amount appropriated by the Appropriation Act, 2002.
The Chief Minister requested recurrent expenditure amounting to $17,853,480 to replenish the Contingencies Fund to be a charge against the Consolidated Fund of the territory and capital expenditure of $16,187,100 to be a charge against the Capital Fund by way of funds transferred from the Consolidated Fund.
Despite a ‘nay’ vote from all six Members on the opposition side of the House and the absence of one government Minister (Hon. Andrew Fahie, who was out of the territory on official business), the motion was carried, after Speaker Vanterpool voted to break the tie.
The first motion brought by the Chief Minister was carried. It related to government contributing $320,000 to the fifth cycle of the Caribbean Development Bank’s Special Development Fund. This will be paid in annual
installments of $80,000 over a four-year period from January 1st, 2001, payment being made in each case to be a charge against the Capital Fund of the territory.
“The other two items to be debated are just as lengthy and will take some time,” said the Speaker as he recessed Council.
There is a motion to be brought by Minister for Health and Welfare Hon. Ethlyn Smith to affirm the Derelict Vehicles (Disposal) Regulations, 2002, while the Second and Third Readings of the Referendum Act, 2002 will be moved by the Chief Minister.
Meantime, in Tuesday’s session, Chief Minister O’Neal laid two documents on the table: British Virgin Islands Social Security Board Annual Report - 2000 and Statutory Instrument 2002 No. 37 “Stamps (Beaches on Virgin Gorda) Order, 2002”.
Minister for Communications and Works Hon. Julian Fraser presented the Public Works Department Annual Report - 1999, Minister for Natural Resources and Labour Hon. Reeial George presented the Survey Department Annual Reports from 1998 to 2001 and Attorney General Hon. Cherno Jallow laid on the table the Law Reform Commission Report - Strategic Plan.
Opposition Leader Dr. the Hon. Orlando Smith presented the Public Accounts Committee Report on the BVI High School Complex.
During the question and answer segment, Chief Minister O’Neal responded to the Opposition Leader’s question about the purpose of the soil being transported from Tortola to Anegada. Hon. O’Neal stated that the soil was needed for the ongoing road construction project on that island.
Several questions about the Terrence B. Lettsome International Airport project were fielded to Deputy Chief Minister and Minister of
Communications and Works Hon. Julian Fraser. He responded that the completion date of the runway extension is contingent on the selection of a contractor. He said the sewerage contract was awarded some time ago, but the requirements now need to be upgraded and he also announced that the issue of the appointment of a Project Manager “will be dealt with appropriately”.
At Large Representative Hon. Ronnie Skelton asked Chief Minister O’Neal about the excessive heat at the airport. The Chief Minister said the matter is being investigated and should shortly be resolved.
Regarding the new hospital project, the BVI leader replied that all the necessary funding has not yet been secured, but that negotiations are ongoing. Meantime, Minister for Health and Welfare Hon. Ethlyn Smith said there was no new information on the project since her last update in August.
On the future of the Department of Agriculture, Minister Hon. Reeial George responded that a July report advised that the Department should remain as a Department. He said this report would shortly be tabled in the Legislative Council.
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