Miller boycotts budget speech
(CNS): Following the premier’s decision to present his government’s budget to the Legislative Assembly Tuesday evening before gaining official UK approval, the independent member for North Side boycotted the proceedings. MLA Ezzard Miller said he refused to participate in the Throne Speech and Budget Address, which had not received agreement from the FCO’s OT minister, Henry Bellingham, as it was yet another example of the premier's continued circumvention of due process. With the government benches carrying the majority in parliament, Miller pointed to the futility of attempting to object to the proceedings in the LA when all eight UDP members “would simply follow in lockstep” anything the premier does.
As a result, the MLA simply walked out of the Legislative Assembly before the speeches were delivered as he said he could not be a party to further abuse of the system by Premier McKeeva Bush. Miller pointed to the memo circulated by Deputy Governor Franz Manderson an hour or so before the LA session opened.
“It is rather curious that the Premier, having cancelled several previously announced dates and times for convening the LA to present the budget, today makes the choice to present the budget without final FCO approval,” Miller stated, adding that he had become aware of the statement from the governor shortly before proceedings were due to start which made it clear the premier was delivering the budget in the knowledge that the OT minister had not, and may not give, his approval to the plans.
“I decided not to take part in the process because this is yet another example of the premier's continued circumvention of due process by ignoring the provisions of the PMFL and the FFR, which he signed with the FCO,” Miller said.
“I will, however, return to parliament … to debate and make my contribution on behalf of the people of North Side and this country. Hopefully, the premier, will by then have made the necessary adjustments to get FCO approval on the budget,” he added.
Miller missed a long and repetitive presentation by the premier, in which he said he had decided to bring the budget before getting official approval as there had been indications from the FCO that they would accept the latest reductions in operation expenses. He said these had been reduced to $531 million.
Bush said that Bellingham was “off” (the UK minister is understood to be taking his annual leave) but the Cayman government could not wait any longer to begin the budget process so he had made a decision to deliver the budget as he expected it would be approved.
Deputy Governor Manderson indicated in a statement released before the start of the LA that while the budget had not yet received official approval, the FCO had no objections to the Throne Speech being delivered.
Although Bush made his speech and gave some fleeting references to the spending and revenue measures contained in the budget, there were no documents to support the presentation. However, he said these would be delivered to members on Tuesday, though he did not indicate when the appropriations bill and supporting documents would be available to the public.
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