$5B constitutional agencies’ budget cuts
– as house approve cuts
A move by the government, described as a direct threat to democracy in Guyana, saw the A partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government slashing the budget for a number of critical constitutional agencies by a whopping $5 billion on Thursday evening.
During consideration of the 2017 Estimates of Expenditure for 16 Constitutional Agencies, tempers flared in the National Assembly as the Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) argued profusely against a decision to reduce the agencies’ allocations, which could impact their effective functioning.
The 16 agencies requested over $11 billion for 2016, however those requests were watered down to $6 billion by the government, with Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan leading the charge.
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) suffered the ‘deepest’ cut with its 2017 budgetary request slashed from $5.8 billion to $2 billion.
This decision came in for heavy criticism from the PPP/C benches. However, House Speaker Dr Barton Scotland blocked most of the questions posed by the Opposition which sought to enquire whether the allocation is sufficient, bearing in mind the electoral commission is expected to embark on fresh house-to-house registration next year.
Scotland said the rules prohibited the PPP/C parliamentarians from scrutinising the operational aspects and line-items of the constitutional bodies.
The government used its 33-member majority in the house to vote for the Gecom allocation.
PUBLIC PROCUREMENT COMMISSION
As it relates to the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) Jordan unilaterally decided to allocate $76.2M to the body for fiscal year 2017, arguing that the Commission is not yet operational, thus it will benefit from supplementary financing if necessary during 2017.
“Don’t beat us up on it…it is a provisional sum,” Jordan said.