Every year, Jamaicans witness the pomp and pageantry signalling the ceremonial reopening of the Houses of Parliament. But just what happens within the walls of Gordon House after the sound of the band fades and the last well-dressed guest disappears inside that hallowed space?
The Governor General, who is escorted into the Parliament by the Chief of the Defence Staff reads the Throne Speech, which outlines the priority programmes and policies to be pursued by the Government during the new budget period.
The Finance Minister tables the Estimates of Expenditure, detailing the allocations in the budget for all Ministries, Departments, and Agencies of Government.
The Standing Finance Committee, comprising all 63 Members of Parliament is then convened to review the Estimates.
Over a two day period, respective portfolio ministers explain the allocations, following which a report is sent to the House of Representatives.
The Finance Minister then makes his opening address on a day appointed, signalling the start of the budget debate.
The Opposition Spokesperson on Finance makes his presentation, according to schedule.
The Leader of the Opposition also makes a presentation.
The Honourable Prime Minister makes his contribution.
The Minister of Finance and the Public Service, following these contributions, makes another presentation in closing the debate, at which time he addresses concerns, questions or criticisms that were raised by the other speakers.
The House then passes an Appropriation Bill, which essentially gives the Government the authority to operate the Budget.
The provision goes to the Senate for passage.
The Senate approves the Bill, which then goes to the Governor General for his signature, making it now an Act of Parliament.
The Act is then gazetted (officially publicised by the state in its official publication, called the ‘Gazette’) to inform the general public that the state has passed a law.
Accessing the Funds in the Budget
To access the funds allocated to it each Ministry, Department, and Agency submits a cash flow (a list of their expenditure for the month; which includes, salaries, utilities, payments to suppliers, rental monies, etcetera) to the Ministry of Finance requesting the warrant for the month in question.This process is repeated monthly until the fiscal year ends. All payments are instructed via warrants and executed by the Accountant General’s Department (AGD), according to the budget.
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