Thu | Aug 24, 2017

Derrick Smith says he will be 'available' for any Budget vote

Published:Tuesday | March 14, 2017 | 3:45 PM
Smith has been ill for a while and is undergoing treatment in Miami, Florida.

The St Andrew North Western MP Derrick Smith, says he will be available for any parliamentary vote for the passage of the 2017/2018 Budget next week.

This would stave off a potential constitutional crisis when debate on the Appropriation Bill in the House of Representatives ends Wednesday when the Finance Minister closes the Budget Debate. 

Smith has been ill for a while and is undergoing treatment in Miami, Florida.

He told The Gleaner/Power 106 News Centre this morning that he is recovering but did not disclose when he will return to Jamaica nor the nature of his illness.

Under fiscal rules, the Budget must be passed by April 1, when the 2017-2018 fiscal year starts.

If Smith remains absent, that reduces the Government's numbers to 31 — the same as the Opposition's.

However, only 30 members of the Government will be allowed to vote, as the Speaker, under the rules of the House, is not allowed to vote unless there is a deadlock.

The PNP has described the tax package to fund the Budget as "unconscionable and a betrayal of the trust of the people in their Government".

That's a posture that has led to questions about whether the Opposition will call for a divide and possibly cause a constitutional crisis.

Phillip Paulwell, the leader of opposition business in the House of Representatives, told The Gleaner that the party is discussing the matter.