by Linda Straker
- Supplementary Appropriation Act provides for EC$54,910,146 to be allocated to 5 government ministries
- Opposition Senators claimed Leader of Government Business bullied Senator Joseph
- Opposition Leader supported walkout
The 3 Senators appointed to the Upper House by Opposition Leader Tobias Clement jointly walked out of Parliament on Wednesday, 15 September 2021 after claiming that Simon Stiell who is the Leader of Government Business in the House, bullied Senator Matthew Joseph.
“Mr President, I am very sorry that we cannot continue with the Senate today. How Senator Stiell spoke to Senator Joseph today is of great concern to us; it is bullying. We are here to debate, to agree, and disagree, we will like to withdraw our motion and can we please ask the House to excuse us,” Senator Rolanda McQueen informed the House immediately after the lunch break.
Senator McQueen, along with Senators Matthew Joseph and Tessa St Cyr who are representing Opposition Leader Clement then proceeded to pack their bags and walk out of the chamber which was at the time being presided over by Deputy President Senator Chris DeAllie.
Before the lunch break and walkout, the House debated and passed the Supplementary Appropriation Act which provides for the House to approve EC$54,910,146 that will be allocated to 5 government ministries.
The Ministry of Finance, Economic Development, Physical Development, Public Utilities, and Energy receives the largest allocation of EC$2 million for recurrent expenditure and EC$36,434,719 for capital expenditure. In total, the sum allocated to the Ministry of Finance will be EC$38,434,719.
The amount for the Ministry of Health and Social Security will be EC$10,204,000. The Ministry of Education, Human Resource Development, Religious Affairs and Information will receive EC$5,171,722 while the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands and Forestry will be receiving an additional EC$100,000. The Police Force which falls under the Ministry of National Security, will be receiving approximately EC$1 million.
In his contribution, Senator Joseph questioned the true purpose of the supplementary budget and expressed varying opinions, while questioning the initiative implemented by the Government to stimulate the economy.
“The country Mr President does not want stimulus packages. What we need to do is stimulate the economy; our focus is wrong,” said Senator Joseph as he challenged the contribution of Government to the agriculture sector, the grant afforded through the Caribbean Development Bank loan, among others.
Senator McQueen questioned the repurchasing of Grenlec and the money assigned for the debushing programme.
In his rebuttal, Senator Stielle who presented the Bill, used part of his time to reprimand both senators for what he described “as some level of pettiness” because questions that were submitted did not receive answers.
Opposition Leader Tobias Clement said that he was informed about the action of his senators via telephone, and supported the move.