Lawmakers plan to begin a House of Assembly sitting on Thursday that is scheduled to include the debate on the 2018 budget.
Last December, HOA members unanimously passed a temporary budget designed to serve as a stopgap measure until 2018’s full appropriation act was devised.
The measure — deemed a “provisional general warrant” — earmarked more than $101 million for the recurrent budget through the end of this month.
Lawmakers are also scheduled to vote on a $50 million loan from the Caribbean Development Bank, which comes on the heels of a separate $65.2 million CDB loan approved last year.
Additionally, Attorney General Baba Aziz is slated to move a motion for the first reading of the long-delayed Human Rights Commission Act.
The commission — which is provided for in the 2007 Constitution — would be tasked with investigating and reconciling allegations of human rights infringements.
It would also be responsible for informing the public about constitutional rights and dispensing advice on human rights-related procedures and policy.
During an HOA sitting last May, Mr. Aziz moved a motion for the first reading of a 2017 act providing for the HRC.
Multiple lawmakers, however, emphasised then that such an act would require a long examination period.
“I don’t think this bill should be rushed quickly to the second and third readings,” Communications and Works Minister Mark Vanterpool (R-D4) said at the time, adding, “I do believe it should take some time to be well-aired and ventilated in the public.”
Not rushing to pass the bill appears to be in line with lawmakers’ behaviour towards the HRC over the last decade: Despite numerous declarations of support from members of both major political parties, any work to establish the commission has been plagued by false starts, abandoned promises and indecisiveness.
During today’s sitting, Opposition Leader Andrew Fahie (R- D1) is also scheduled to ask government ministers questions regarding the $65 million CDB loan; BVI Airways; the territory’s ferry terminals; and details about the clean-up and restoration of schools around the territory.
Opposition Member Julian Fraser (R-D3) will ask Premier Dr. Orlando Smith (R-at large) if he plans to appear before a subcommittee as part of the United Kingdom’s Treasury Selection Committee’s probe into tax avoidance, according to the sitting’s order paper.
He also plans to ask whether government is mulling a residency-by-investment programme and about the Financial Services Commission’s revenue for the first three months of the year, among other things.
Dr. Smith is scheduled to table the Financial Investigation Agency’s 2016 annual report and draft budget estimates for 2018.
He also plans to table the report on the deliberations of the Standing Finance Committee for 2018’s budget. The deliberations are closed to the public.