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Friday, May 27, 2022

Penn trying to manipulate persons on agri funding - Dr Wheatley

Penn trying to manipulate persons on agri funding - Dr Wheatley

Deputy Premier and Minister for Agriculture Dr Natalio Wheatley has accused Opposition Leader Marlon Penn of being deliberately deceitful in continuing to insist that there was only $50,000 allocated to agriculture in the territory’s budget.

“The Leader of the Opposition was on [the radio] last night and keeps talking about the fact that we only have $50,000 in the budget for agriculture and fisheries,” Dr Wheatley said while speaking on the Virgin Islands Party’s Let’ Talk radio programme on Tuesday.

He continued: ”And I think, [he is] trying to manipulate persons by saying when you look at the budget book and you look at the section that says agriculture, and if you look under capital projects you’ll only see $50,000.”

He was absent from the sessions

Premier Andrew Fahie had a different take on the Opposition Leader’s viewpoint, however.

“I don’t know if I could say it’s deceitful. I just would say that he was absent from the budget sessions when the Ministry of Finance explained it. So, I don’t think that he got to read the notes. So, I don’t think that he’s being deceitful I just think that he just didn’t attend at that time,” Premier Fahie said.

The Premier said all persons who were present for the budget deliberations during the Standing Finance Committee segment at the time would know that the Ministry of Finance explained very clearly that $1,000,000 of the government’s money services transfer tax would be directed towards agriculture and fisheries.

He said these funds would not be under the section of monies allocated to fishing and farming in the budget.

“They stated this would be done based on what would be brought forward by the ministry,” he explained.

Budget governs gov’t spending

Penn had previouslu argued on the NDP radio show that the budget is a legal document that governs how the government‘s finances are going to be spent for a particular fiscal year.

He said that in the budgetary process, the only money that was approved for fishing under the capital expenditure was $50,000.

The Opposition Leader said the only way that any other monies can be allocated is through a supplementary allocation which would have to go back to the House of Assembly to be adjusted.


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