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Senate tightens Government's money-management guidelines

Published:Saturday | March 13, 2010 | 12:00 AM

THE SENATE yesterday passed companion pieces of legislation to enhance the Government's fiscal management and accountability framework.

Senators gave the nod to the Public Bodies Management and Accountability Act, with three amendments and the Financial Administration and Audit Act (FAAA).

Government and opposition senators presented contrasting positions on at least one aspect of the amendment to the FAAA bill.

The FAAA bill was amended to remove provisions concerning deferred financing agreements. This change would reflect the Government's commitment to not using deferred financing arrangements in the future.

Opposition Senator Mark Golding contended that despite a proposed adjustment to the parent law, a gap still remained in relation to deferred financing.

He proposed that a new clause be introduced stating, "The minister shall take steps to ensure that the Government and public bodies do not enter into deferred financing arrangements of any description."

But government Senator and junior minister in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Arthur Williams, said with the amendment, there was no possibility of deferred financing taking place in the future.

He said deferred financing was used solely in relation to developing Jamaica's infrastructure. However, he pointed out that it had never applied to "normal credit arrangements for goods and services".

Responding, Golding said the removal of oversight provisions of deferred financing did not prohibit any government or public body from entering into such an arrangement.

"There is no provision in the law presently to stop that, and that is why I am proposing the new amendment to fill that gap," he added.

Attorney General and Leader of Government Business, Dorothy Lightbourne,, said the legislation gave Parliament oversight of all the fiscal dealings and operations of the Government.