As the latest step in clearing up missing budget documents from past years, the House of Assembly debated and passed the Supplementary Appropriation (2016) Act, 2021 on May 11.
The acts show how government shuffled funds for various projects in 2016, using budget surpluses from some initiatives for other underfunded efforts.
Such appropriation acts are meant to come within six months of the end of the year they address, but they have come late in recent years, with then-Governor Gus Jaspert assenting to SAPs from 2014 and 2015 last July.
The acts will enable the territory to complete its raft of outstanding annual audited financial statements, according to Premier Andrew Fahie, who explained previously that the absence of completed audits is a breach of the Constitution.
“We had to look over these because if there is any error at all, it throws off the accounts straight up into 2021,” Mr. Fahie said. “That’s the magnitude of what we’re doing here.”
The bill passed on May 11 listed additional expenditures for 2016: The extra capital expenditures came to $3,067,644, which was covered by savings; the recurrent expenditures came to $28,827,860.22, with only $15,846,277.71 covered by savings.
“Since we have come to office, we have had to regularise a lot of accounts from before our time,” Mr. Fahie said on May 11.
The Virgin Islands Party came to power in the general election in February 2019.
“We want to make sure that whether it is supplementary based on extra spending or to regularise any areas highlighted by the accountant general, that we come back to this House in a more timely manner, within six months of the previous year,” the premier added. “Making sure the people’s money is accounted for in a more timely manner should be the mantra of any government.”
Deputy Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley commended former Financial Secretary Glenroy Forbes and current acting Financial Secretary Jeremiah Frett for their hard work to update the books.
Members passed the 2016 SAP without amendment, and it awaits Governor John Rankin’s assent.