Members of the National Assembly have deferred sittings of yesterday Monday 9th December 2019, for them to properly scrutinize the revised copy of the budget estimates circulated to them.
In moving the motion, Halifa Sallah said the Assembly was in its defining moment regarding the budget and quoted Section 152 sub-section (3) of the Constitution, which reads: "When the estimates of expenditure have been approved by the National Assembly, an appropriation bill shall be introduced in the National Assembly from the consolidated revenue fund of the sum necessary to meet the expenditure under separate votes, for the separate services required and purposes specified therein."
Halifa said: "It is clear from this that we are talking about the approved expenditure on what should be provided for the appropriation bill. Our standing orders incorporate what is in the Constitution under Order 87 (2) using the same text".
He further emphasized that Standing Order 91, paragraph 15 states that the resolutions of the Assembly on the estimates, shall serve as a basis for the appropriation bill and stressed that there should be no distinction between what they approved and what is stipulated in the appropriation bill.
He added: "In that regard, we did approve the approved estimates with amendments, with prescription that the Finance Ministry will go and prepare the final document for us. The appropriation is presented, but what we finally approved is just in our hands. In that regard, I want to move the motion that bearing in mind that the Standing Order 53 provides for motion to move any stage of appropriation bill, taking cognisance of Section 153 of the Constitution, which is corroborated by Standing Order 87 paragraph 2 and taking note of Standing Order 91(15)".
He continued: "I therefore move a motion for a deferment of the debate on the appropriation bill to enable members look into the revised copy of the estimates, to determine the validity of the figures for continuation".
The motion was seconded by the Member for Busumbala, Saikuba Jarjue, and the debate on the revised copy of the 2020 Budget estimates was deferred to today Tuesday 10th December 2019, for continuation.
If readers can recall, the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Mambury Njie, on the 18th of November 2019, tabled the draft estimates of revenue for the Gambia before the Legislators for scrutiny, consideration and adoption.
On Friday 6th December 2019, the Minister delivered his budget speech. However, Deputies on Monday 9th December 2019, began a debate on the estimates for a short period only to realize some slight difference between the presented estimates and the revised copy. This prompted the Assembly to initially suspend the session for a thirty-minute break.
Upon resumption Halifa Sallah moved the motion to defer the debate until today Tuesday 10th December 2019, for deputies to properly scrutinize the revised copy and continue the debate proper.