Day 3 Leg Co

I can only talk about a bit of yesterday's Leg Co afternoon sessions. I was only able to attend for a couple of hours yesterday but I was told that a lot of the more interesting discussions took place in the morning. Currently the members are still in committee session and going through the individual ministries and departmental budgets and approving them one by one. Technically questions about the budget should be raised but members take the opportunity to ask related matters to the ministry or department concerned.

Nobody asked anything during Foreign Affairs and Defence budgets which surprised me. Plenty of questions there. Lots of questions for departments under the PMO. The only one I managed to listen to was the Belait member asking whether with the new Lumut Methanol Plant this will have any impact on the supply of electricity to Belait (Electrical Department comes under the Energy Division, PMO). One member raised two popular issues - higher bonuses for government officers because of higher expenditures and possibility for government officers who are not able to complete the haj due to medical reasons are allowed to take the tambang out so that they can 'upah' someone to do the haj. A few members praised the Home Affairs Ministry for taking quick actions during the recent flood. I was a bit miffed with this one as clearly roles taken by the Welfare people etc were forgotten.

Anyway, the point is, Ministers do have to reply. I agree that we are miles away from established parliamentary system but it is still interesting to come and watch. So I do urge those who read this to take a bit of time and come to the new Leg Co building. Bring your IC and dress smartly as the advice from Leg Co and you will be allowed into the public gallery. I mentioned this last year and I don't really see anyone from the public come.

Comments

Mohammad said…
THANK you so much Mr P.S. for your kind invitation (on behalf of His Majesty's Government no less) and great encouragement for simple folks like this "kulikang" to come and witness the 'Great Debate' goings-on in the most impressive new Deawan Majlis. If not for more pressing work commitments, I would be the first and only "Rakyat" to be in the Public Gallery since Day One! But never too late for me to come tomorrow afternoon, Insya Allah, right after work...
Mohammad said…
Dear (Dato-to-be) Rozan:) -- Amin!

I stand to correct myself, DEWAN MAJLIS should be the correct spelling, boss, sorry.

Speaking of Budget debates, I think the Brunei Darussalam State LegCo should be benchmarking against the Singapore Parliament procedural arrangement on this particular issue of importance:

"About The Singapore Government Budget

Overview Of the Budgeting Process

The annual Government Budget is prepared on a financial year (FY) basis. The FY for the Government runs from 1 April of one year to 31 March of the following year. For example, FY2008 is from 1 April 2008 to 31 March 2009.

The Budget serves two purposes:

a. It serves as a record of the approved levels of expenditure and accountability in the usage of government funds; and

b. It is also a plan of the estimated government revenue and expenditures for the FY.

Annual Budget Cycle

Before the FY starts, the Minister for Finance would present the annual Budget that has been approved by Cabinet to Parliament. For Budget 2008, this will take place in February 2008. The Budget Debate and Committee of Supply sessions then follow, where Members of Parliament can query the Government on the expenditure of funds in the previous FY, as well as the proposed Budget for the next FY, for the various ministries and organs of state.

After Parliament passes the Supply Bill, thus giving its approval of the Budget, the President will need to give his assent to the Bill before it can come into effect. The President's role is to safeguard the past reserves of the nation. He may withhold his assent to the Bill if, in his opinion, the estimated revenue and expenditure are likely to draw on past reserves.

Once the President gives his assent to the Supply Bill, it is then enacted as law as the Supply Act. The Act will then control the amount of money that the Government may spend in the coming FY, and for what purposes this money may be spent on."

Above is the Intellectual Property Right of the Government of the Republic of Singapore. I do hope being in Brunei, I am not liable to be prosecuted for Copyrights Act infringement... touch wood;)!

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