Consideration of Estimates: $100M for contract employees at MOTP; Higher quality of birth certificates now being produced

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The Consideration of the 2017 National Budget Estimates has begun in the Committee of Supply of the National Assembly beginning with the line items which fall under the Ministry of the Presidency (MOTP).

Under Policy Development and Administration of the MOTP, Opposition MP, Juan Edghill raised concerns with the Line Item 6116 which shows a $100M allocation for contract employees, which also shows an increase of 11 workers.

In response Minister of State, Joseph Harmon said the increase in allocation was as a result of the increase in staff as well as the increase in wages and salaries for some 52 employees and relocation of 41 employees to other agencies.

MP Edghill requested the names, designations, and remuneration for these 11 new employees, which Minister Harmon said would be provide to the Committee of Supply later today or tomorrow.

With regards to the $80M budgeted for electricity the Opposition MP questioned if this is in keeping with the Government’s conservation efforts, to which the Minister responded in the positive. There was also an increase in the allocated sum for security, which the State Minister said was also due to the increase in wages and salaries that would take effect in the new year.

He clarified to the Committee of Supply that the three security firms Brands, Supreme and Kalibur successfully secured the contracts following a bidding process.

Another area of contention for the Parliamentary Opposition was monies budgeted for the purchase of new vehicles under Line Item 2405200 with the heading “Land Transport.” Harmon noted that these vehicles would be included in the President’s fleet to be used by visiting Heads of States.

Harmon said aging vehicles were replaced, noting that MOTP has a current stock of 142 vehicles, some of which will be serviced and sold. The new fleet would be mothballed and secured when not in use.

Meanwhile, Minister of Citizenship, Winston Felix clarified in the Committee of Supply that $3M out of a  budgeted $194m was spent on computerizing birth certificates for the years 1987-1997, while the remaining $191M will be used for computerizing those from 1886-1986

Responding to an objection raised by MP Edghill, Minister Felix said as stipulated by law the $191M would be returned to the Consolidated Fund before the end of 2016. This amount was budgeted for utilization in 2017, Felix said.

According to Felix a higher quality of birth certificates are now being produced with added security features with some 300,000 produced for 2016.

He confirmed too that officers from the General Register’s Office are computerizing the certificates since favourable contractors were not garnered during the bidding process.

As of the first session of the Consideration of the 2017 Budget Estimates, all Current and Capital expenditures which fall under the Ministry of the Presidency have been approved in the Committee of Supply.

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