The coalition A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government has increased its expenditure to the point where it now has surpassed budgetary allocations for some of its programmes and has had to resort again to the coffers.
Finance Minister Winston Jordan, is slated to present for consideration, the coalition’s first Financial Paper for supplementary spending from the Contingencies Fund, when the National Assembly meets this Thursday.
The additional spending totals in excess of $930 million, covering January 1, 2016 to July 28, 2016.
Under the Fiscal Management and Accountability (FMA) Act of Guyana, a sitting Government is allowed to withdraw monies from the Contingencies Fund, in the event of unforeseen circumstances, or in the event of emergencies.
The Contingencies Fund was established as a sub-fund to the Consolidated Fund, commonly referred to as the Treasury.
Under the FMA, “The Minister, when satisfied that an urgent, unavoidable and unforeseen need for expenditure has arisen – (a) for which no moneys have been appropriated or for which the sum appropriated is insufficient; (b) for which moneys cannot be reallocated as provided for under this Act; or (c) which cannot be deferred without injury to the public interest, may approve a Contingencies Fund advance as an expenditure out of the Consolidated Fund.”
While in Opposition, the APNU/AFC coalition had consistently criticised the then People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration for its resort to the Contingencies Fund, as being reflective of bad budgetary planning in addition to an abuse of the fund.
Former Auditor General, Anand Goolsarran – a vocal supporter of the APNU/AFC coalition Government – on Saturday conceded that the practice of resorting to the fund, can in fact be seen as indicative of bad budget planning but in the absence of any details with respect to the financial paper to be presented by Jordan, it would be too early to come to such a definitive conclusion.
The Financial Papers detailing a breakdown of the expenditure (capital and recurrent) will be presented to members of Parliament (MPs) and the general public on Thursday when the House convenes.
According to a report in today’s Guyana Times, Goolsarran said while the law does make provision for the Government of the day to access the Contingencies Fund, this must be done within the confines of the law. Jordan is also listed on the parliamentary order paper for this week’s sitting of the National Assembly to present a second Financial Paper, this time making a request for in excess of $2 billion. Goolsarran again adopted a ‘wait and see’ position before speaking definitively on the matter. During 2014, the then PPP/C Administration under the hand of Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh, had resorted to extra-budgetary measures to the tune of $4.5 billion; monies the then APNU/AFC had labelled ‘illegal spending.’ AFC Leader, Khemraj Ramjattan, now Vice President and Public Security Minister, had in fact made an official report to the Guyana Police Force against the PPP/C’s Finance Minister. The issue had also been used as one of the sticking points in arguments in favour of the passage of a No-Confidence Motion against the then Donald Ramotar Government. Ramjattan had also labelled the practice as deceitful, since the then PPP/C Government annually misrepresents the budget by billions, since one amount would be approved as the national budget for the year, but this is nearly always supplemented through the use of extra-budgetary provisions.