By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – In a bid to disapprove $1.3B funding for the Amaila Falls Access Road, the main opposition party – A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) – voted against a total of $13B set aside for the construction and rehabilitation of roads and bridges across the country, in keeping with the Chief Justice’s ruling that they cannot cut funding but can only approve or disapprove.
While all APNU Members of Parliament voted against the funding, the seven Alliance for Change Parliamentarians abstained. The funding was approved in the end with 32 votes in its favor from the government benches.
Funding for several major infrastructure serving the public on a daily basis would have been jeopardized had the funding been disapproved. Those include: The Demerara Harbour Bridge, Georgetown/Lethem Road, Four Lane Highway Expansion, the West Demerara Four Lane Road and Highway, Hinterland Roads, sea defenses, stellings and ferries among others.
APNU MPs had noted their regret in rejecting the $13B in a bid to ensure that funding did not go to the Amaila Falls access road.
Government was constructing a Hydro Power Plant at the Amaila Falls but was halted after the foreign investor pulled out.
The combined opposition had questioned why the road was still being built when construction on the Plant had halted.
Benn explained that the administration still intended to build the Hydro Power Plant and as such the road was being constructed as it is a prerequisite to the construction of the plant.
Earlier, the combined opposition voted against funding for the Specialty Hospital and other regional and clinic services and voted down the $1.1B allocated for Amerindian Development for the fiscal year 2014.
Speaker of the House Raphael Trotman had explained that the votes were only proposals and when members sit in plenary, a final decision will be made.
On Wednesday, April 09 the Speaker announced that the Opposition can only propose amendments after which it would be up to the government to accept or reject the proposal.
The proposals will be examined in a sub – committee that the Speaker suggested be established to consider the proposed amendments to the Budget. The committee comprises four members of the opposition and three members of the government and is chaired by the Speaker.