Supplementary Budget Granted
Published 18th May 2007, 2:54pm
A road building campaign moving faster than anticipated, increased legal aid costs, and rising medical care costs, among other things, caused government to seek legislative approval for more funding.
Financial Secretary the Hon. Kenneth Jefferson presented a bill in the Legislative Assembly for a supplementary requisition of funds yesterday (Wednesday, 16 May), and it was approved today, Thursday, 17 May.
The money is to be used up within the current financial year that ends 30 June 2007, and it is for the Chief Secretary, the Portfolio of the Civil Service, the Financial Secretary, the Ministry of Health and Human Services, the Cabinet, and the Ministry of Communications, Works and Infrastructure.
The highest amount requested, $8.58 million, is mostly for the Ministry of Communications, Works and Infrastructure to continue road projects on the Esterley Tibbetts Highway and the east/west arterial road.
In his contribution to the debate on the Throne Speech and 2007/08 Budget address in the House on 10 May, Minister of Works, the Hon. Arden McLean, said, "I can report to you that the east/west arterial is progressing much quicker than anticipated." He added that the Esterley Tibbetts Highway is almost completed. As a result, the National Roads Authority (NRA) had spent its budgeted funds for 2006/07.
Mr. McLean explained that for this reason he is requesting advance funding now for a smooth continuation of work, or the NRA may have to halt operations until the new budget is passed and becomes law at 1 July 2007.
On behalf of the Chief Justice, Cabinet Office requested a supplementary amount of $625,000 to pay fees for legal aid services until the end of this current financial year, 30 June 2007.
Clerk of the Courts, Mr. Valdis Foldats, explained that there has been a steady increase in court cases. "Our courts are very busy because it now seems more defendants are taking their cases to trial." He said that fewer persons are using the option of an out-of-court settlement.
Legal Aid is granted to applicants after a 'means test' is carried out and they are found to be unable to afford an attorney.
Attorney General, the Hon. Samuel Bulgin, informed the Legislative Assembly that the Law Reform Commission is undertaking a review of the system of granting legal aid, and the Legal Aid Law. He said the need for the system and the law to be modified has been recognised.
The Ministry of Health and Human Services needed varying amounts, including $1.6 million for medical care for indigents and uninsured persons; $1.2 million for public health investigations and services; $3.5 million for provision of tertiary care of indigents at overseas institutions; and $95,000 for school lunch and uniform programmes.
The Health Services Authority receives $7.7 million to address an operating loss. Minister of Health and Human Services, the Hon. Anthony Eden, said this money includes $2.9 million to pay for risk management insurance, and $1.2 million in cost of living adjustment back pay to HSA employees.