National Assembly approves FMAA Amendment Bill piloted by Senior Finance Minister

-Budget process for Constitutional Agencies to be strengthened and streamlined while preserving their independence

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, December 29 2021:-The Fiscal Management and Accountability Amendment Bill piloted by Senior Minister in the Office of the President with Responsibility for Finance Dr. Ashni Singh was late this evening approved in the National Assembly during the Thirty Fourth Sitting of the Twelfth Parliament. The Bill is expected to strengthen and streamline the budget process for Constitutional Agencies and simultaneous preserve the independence of those agencies. It also includes amendments which will ensure accountability and sets out the practice and procedure to which these Constitutional Agencies must conform in the management of their subventions for the efficient discharge of their functions.

For example, the Bill amends the FMAA Act Chapter 73:02 for the purpose of ‘prescribing the manner in which budgets are approved and withdrawals are made from the Consolidated Fund in respect of Constitutional Agencies’. It also includes an amendment to section 15 of the FMAA to require that an annual budget proposed to include a motion in compliance with article 218 and 222 A of the Constitution. Another amendment seeks to amend section 40 e of the Audit Act to provide for the presentation of the Audit Office Budget.

Prior to this amendment Bill, in January 2021, Minister Singh tabled a motion for an amendment to the Fiscal Management and Accountability (Amendment) Act 2021 which amended the FMAA Chapter 73:02 to allow for the correction of a number of anomalies relating to the budget process applicable to constitutional agencies.

The amendments were as a consequence of a 2015 amendment to the FMAA by the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) during their tenure whereby constitutional agencies’ budgets were required to be sent to the National assembly in advance of the submission of the rest of the National Budget. This two-stage process resulted in a fragmented and inefficient process for consideration of the National Budget and denied the Parliament an opportunity to view and consider the budget in a comprehensive manner.

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