Leader of the Opposition Bishop Joseph Atherley yesterday supported Government’s decision to add another $28 million to the 2020/2021 Estimates of Expenditure for welfare and other programmes in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But he questioned aspects of the intended disbursement of those funds.
The money was allocated to the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs and the Government Procurement Department during yesterday’s sitting of the House of Assembly.
While giving his approval to the allocations, the Opposition Leader raised concern about the oversight in the case of the $10 million allocated to the Prime Minister’s Office.
Atherley questioned the decision to have the disbursements done by that office at a time when he said the Prime Minister’s office was already “stretched.” He also wanted to know “what accounting methods” were in place.
Saying he was “not trying to be difficult”, Atherley also suggested the Ministry of People’s Empowerment and Elder Affairs may have been a better alternative to manage the allocation.
But in response, Minister in the Ministry of Finance Ryan Straughn who led off the debate explained the intention was to have the Prime Minister’s Office act as the coordinating centre for the work which would have to be done across various ministries to deliver the kind of welfare programmes that the money voted was designed to support.
Straughn suggested the Welfare Department and the Ministry of People’s Empowerment already had “challenges” serving the current welfare constituents. He said: “We want to bring the full power of Government being coordinated from the PM’s office in such, that we can support the work being done in the Ministry of People’s Empowerment by involving other ministries.” (GC)
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