2018 budget: Motion to cut $200M from Parliament Office passed despite fierce Opposition

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By Ramona Luthi

The motion to cut almost $200M in budget allocations to the Parliament Office was on Friday afternoon passed in the National Assembly despite stringent arguments put forward by the Opposition.

Instead of the recommended $1.7B for the constitutional agency, Government agreed to have the amount reduced to $1.5B citing that no procurement planning was available for the agency in the past.

File Photo: PPP/C Chief Whip Gail Teixeira speaking in the National Assembly

However, Opposition Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira questioned whether the $200M cut was justified, while calling on the Finance Minister, Winston Jordan to specify what the macro economic factors and fiscal framework were that guided the cut.

However, Jordan deflected from the question, stating that the “Budget [2018] is in 10 days” and all the “mysteries” will be disclosed by then.

However, this only seemed to annoy Teixeira who exclaimed that “it is November 17, you have brought the budget of the Constitutional Agencies to the house today,” and as such questioned whether the debate should be postponed until the actual Budget day.

With no response coming from the Government side of the House, the Opposition Chief Whip said that the budget cut of the Parliament Office and other constitutional agencies including the Office of the Auditor General, and Public and Police Service Commission was “capriciousness on the part of the Minister and it is not acceptable.”

Finance Minister Winston Jordan

She further described Jordan’s behavior as “bullyism”, while asserting that her support lies with the Parliament Office being allocated the full budget of $1.7B.

“Why is your economic outlook so dismal?” she asked the Finance Minister in the National Assembly, while highlighting that he was undermining the arguments of Foreign Affairs Minister, Carl Greenidge who had advocated for the Constitutional agencies in the 10th sitting of Parliament.

A vote placed in the house saw 33 in favor of the cut while 25 Parliamentarians were against.

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