The Fourth Meeting of the First Session of the Eighth Parliament was adjourned sine die last Wednesday evening after having approved the supplementary estimates of expenditure for the financial year ending June 2012 and successfully passing four new bills.

The supplementary estimates totalled in excess of ninety-three million dollars. Prime Minister Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit gave detailed explanation for the various appropriations.

In pursuit of its goal that every child succeed and that by 2015 there’ll be at least one college graduate per household, a loan in excess of 6 million dollars was allocated to the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development.

The Prime Minister expounded further.

He says, “In respect to the Ministry of Education, budgetary provisions made in the 2011/2012 estimate proved insufficient to accommodate the ongoing works on the main structures of the new Dominica State College.  Work on the new state of the art education facility is advancing rapidly. In order to account fully for the value of works undertaken at the end of June 2012, the additional sum of six million, one hundred and twenty thousand, nine hundred and twenty-nine dollars was approved.”

The Prime Minister stated that when the new state of the art Dominica State College is complete, the facility will significantly contribute to the fulfilment of the Government’s policy objective of one college graduate per household by 2015 since it will have the capacity to produce many graduates to take up leadership roles in this country.

Eighteen million dollars was spent under the Ministry of Lands, Housing, Settlements and Water Resource Management, where a significant portion of funds was sourced from the European Union for the West Coast Water Supply Project.

Prime Minister Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit affirmed that government is close to providing 100 percent of Dominica’s population with access to potable water.

“A significant part of these resources was required to provide budgetary allocation for infrastructural works that were undertaken under the West Coast Water Supply Project.  This comprises the amount of thirteen million, six hundred and forty-four thousand, seven hundred dollars from the European Union plus two million, ninety-two thousand, and seven hundred dollars from local resources.  The EU is providing financial support in this major, social investment.  This project is progressing satisfactorily and brings us much closer to achieving 100 percent access to clean and reliable potable water on the island.”

As Dominica’s road network continues to be a prominent feature across the island the Minister for Finance spoke about other allocations under the Ministry of Lands, Housing, Settlements and Water Resource Management.

He says, “Local resources were also provided to meet the cost of pipe laying works on the Concorde component of the Carib Reserve water supply project in the sum of three hundred, eighty-eight thousand, four hundred and twenty-seven dollars.  In addition to the above, the following appropriations were necessary to effect compulsory acquisitions of the properties listed below for public uses.  Land at Cotton Hill for housing development, one million; land at Castle Bruce for the Atouri Feeder road, sixty-nine thousand, three hundred and ninety-two dollars; land at Pond Casse to facilitate the construction of the Waitukubuli National Trail, two hundred and thirty-five thousand, one hundred and forty five dollars; property at Bath Road to facilitate expansion of the Windsor Park Sport Stadium, four hundred and forty-three thousand, one hundred and thirty-eight dollars.  Further the sum of two hundred and sixty-nine thousand, nine hundred and eighty-five dollars was provided as disaster relief funds for persons affected by the Layou Valley floods in 2011.  This assistance was made possible through grant resources from the Republic of Korea.”

Additional provisions were made for the Ministry of Social Services, Community Development and Gender Affairs to address various social interventions in the sum of two million eighty-four thousand, six hundred and eighty-five dollars and sixty-eight cents among others.

Also presented at Wednesday’s sitting of Parliament was the Public Procurement and Contract Administration Bill.

The bill which seeks to enhance efficiency and transparency in the use of public funds among other things was read by Hon. Ambrose George who is Minister responsible for Information, Technology and Constituency Empowerment.

“It is universally accepted that public accountability and transparency in procurement decisions are essential requirements of Government functions.  It is also universally accepted that openness and transparency in public administration by public scrutiny through public reporting are essential elements of accountability. Within Dominica, both in Government and in the wider public, the issue of procurement has been identified as a very valuable component of governance.  As with many other aspects of governance and delivery of Government services, this government is seeking to take action which will place Dominica in the league of those who uphold international best practices in these areas.”

Hon. George also listed a few reasons that necessitate the passing of the act.

“The bill seeks among other things to enhance efficiency, competition, fairness and transparency in the use of public funds and to provide suppliers and contractors with the opportunity to review the decisions relating to procurement of goods, services and works by the Government of Dominica and other public bodies. Further, the bill seeks to ensure that adequate capacity is provided within the departments of Government, local government authorities and statutory bodies by modernizing the procurement rules and procedures in line with international best practices by strengthening procurement planning and by monitoring of public procurement.”

An amendment to the Public Service Act Chapter 23:01 was commended to the house by Prime Minister Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit.

He says, “The age of retirement for Public Officers will remain at age 60 years but there will now be the option for persons to be reemployed up to the age of 65 years.  Government will pay bridging pension to officers between the retirement age and the social security pensionable age.  This bill addresses the second point and seeks to amend the pensions act chapter 23.80 to provide for payment of pensions to public officers between the age of retirement and the age at which they become entitled to social security payments under the social security act chapter 31.01.”