JLP unhappy with budget for Opposition leader’s office
OPPOSITION members of parliament yesterday criticised the Government's handling of the budget for the Office of the Leader of the Opposition.
Opposition MP Everald Warmington, who first raised the issue, said the allocation for wages and salaries at the office was reduced by approximately $2 million in a total budget of $16.8 million, up from $16.7 million last year.
But Phillips pointed out that the reduction in salaries resulted from a reallocation of resources within the office from salaries to payments for utility bills.
Warmington insisted that the Government could not decide whether the Leader of the Opposition should spend more of its resources on utility bills or salaries. But the minister said that the decision was not made by his ministry as it came from Parliament.
Phillips, pointing to the $106,000 increase in the allocation, said there was no deliberate attempt to deny the Office of Leader of the Opposition resources to fulfil its responsibilities.
"I would assume that what has happened, given the overall limits of the budget, that they (Parliament) opted to transfer the funds to pay for light and telephone," said Phillips.
Leader of Opposition Business Derrick Smith insisted, however, that it was a fact that the office was deprived of resources which was hampering its ability to fulfil its responsibilities.
But Phillips pointed out that it was not only the Office of the Leader of the Opposition that was affected by the tight budget. "Every single ministry and department had to face a similar situation... No inference should be left that any effort was made to single out the Office of the Leader of the Opposition," the minister said.