Leader of the Opposition, Lennox Linton, has said the ruling Dominica Labour Party (DLP) has been making Dominicans poorer over the past 18 years it has been in power.
He was responding to the National Budget in parliament on Thursday.
“For 18 long years, through budget after budget, this administration has spent more and more of the people’s money on making people poorer, destroying their quality of life and rendering them more and more incapable of making their own money, being their own people, taking care of their families and living lives of dignity,” he said. “Indeed, the most disgraceful performance record of this administration is the more money it receives to develop the country and help the people, the worse off the people become.”
He stated that over the years, his United Workers Party (UWP) has been calling out what he described as “the enduring obsession with the same old failed policies of exclusion, secrecy and petty political partisanship that have made a complete mockery of the parliamentary oversight responsibility for preparation of the national budget and the management of public finances.”
“We have asked for the involvement of the parliamentary opposition at stages in the budget preparation cycle where it can meaningfully contribute to the annual revenue and expenditure planning exercise,” Linton stated. “In 2015, in 2016, in 2017 the budget response of the parliamentary opposition went to great lengths to demonstrate why the budgets of those years and the budgets of the 15 previous years lacked credibility.”
He said the UWP has made that case the budgets presented by the DLP are not products of “an effectively anchored, bi-partisan parliamentary mechanism to decide on and fund the growth and development priorities of Dominica.”
“We advised against the dangers of driving Dominica Labour Party paramountcy to supersede the authority of our nation’s highest decisionmaking body, for partisan purposes like having parliament routinely rubber stamp approval of budgets that are not designed to (and therefore cannot) serve as tools to deliver the growth and development fundamentals of the Commonwealth of Dominica,” Linton stated. “For three straight years we have come to this parliament with constructive proposals for improving the budget formulation process.”
But according to Linton, the response by the DLP has been silence
“So, once again, for the fourth straight we present our recommendations on what needs to be done with a solemn commitment that budget process reforms will be done under the United Workers Party Team Dominica in the public interest of good, accountable government,” he stated.
Linton proposed the following recommendations:
I. We will present budget outlook and budget strategy papers for better public understanding of the fiscal strategy driving the revenue and expenditure allocations
II. We will enact Fiscal responsibility legislation establishing principles of responsible fiscal management and transparency.
III. We will Issue Medium Term Expenditure Framework guidelines
IV. We will use Sector Working Groups and Ministerial Public Expenditure reviews to bring together input from ministers, parliamentarians, public officials, the private sector, civil society organizations and private citizens
V. We will engage a Finance Committee of Parliament, the Budget Office and Sector Hearings to consider these contributions and transform them into action-oriented proposals for the betterment of Dominica
VI. We will engage an Estimates or Finance Committee of Parliament to review and approve the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure
VII. We will restrict the use of contingency warrants used to authorize unbudgeted spending, and the include in the budget, a contingency reserve for unforeseen or emergency spending
VIII. We will improve the capital budgeting process with the introduction of performance budgeting across government by linking budget
allocations to economic and social priorities, and enacting results-based budgeting
IX. We will promote trust among citizens that government, is listening to and acting on their concerns, has a plan for achieving worthwhile objectives, and will use the available resources effectively, efficiently and in a sustainable manner.