The Grenada parliament is scheduled to meet on Friday to debate a stimulus package that will allow for payroll assistance promised to some workers especially those in the tourism sector, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell has said.
Mitchell told a news conference that the legislators will also be approving amendments or enact new pieces of legislation in keeping with the efforts of his administration to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
He said that the members of the Finance Committee will be also meeting to approve and review the revised budget.
“The Finance Committee of Parliament will be meeting via the technology that we use for the virtual meeting . . . that is primarily for us to discuss or to pass approval because the laws of the land require that the stimulus package that we indicated,” Mitchell told reporters Monday.
He said that the legislators would examine the revision to Appropriation Bill which approved the 2020 budget.
“Any time you are supposed to be spending additional money other than what was allocated in a budget period that you must go to the Finance Committee for that legal support to proceed to spend and we expect to be paying those workers that we promise late next week or the following week,” he said.
“We must pass this, and we also will have to look at some other laws that give effect to these payments that must be done through the Parliament,” he said.
Mitchell, who is also the Finance Minister, said that despite the uttering of some that his government may be violating the laws of the land for measures taken because of the COVID-19 threat, he and his cabinet of ministers have not breached the Constitution or any parliamentary approved law.
“It’s important to note and I heard some comments by some uninformed persons that we may be breaking some rule by not going to Parliament, this government has always stood by fundamental rules and we have not broken any rules, those who read and read properly will know we are following every aspect that we have too,” he said.
He further disclosed that the spending proposed in the stimulus package is beyond the amount in the mandatory contingency fund and this is one of the main reasons for holding the sitting.
A contingency fund is mandated by the Constitution with a prescribed annual non-cash allocation of two per cent of revenues. Section 22 of Public Finance Management Act 2015 states that there shall be a Contingency Fund and the Annual Appropriation shall approve amount not lower than two per cent of locally generated revenue, as estimated in the approved budget of the next year to be paid into the Contingency Fund.
In providing guidance as to the purpose of the money, the law says that the Contingency Fund shall be used solely for urgent and unforeseen expenditures arising from emergency situations for which payments cannot be postponed until the passage of Supplementary Budget or next National Budget without seriously affecting the public interest.
“Contingency is what it means in case you have emergencies you can spend, the only reason we have to go to the parliament is that the amount we have to spend for the next three months in addition to what the budget has is more than what the contingency fund has in it right now,” Mitchell said.