By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – The National Assembly wrapped up the consideration of the estimates of the National 2014 Budget in the House on Wednesday, April 16 which saw a reduction of over $37B being imposed to the initial $220B fiscal plan.
This reduction resulted from several cuts made by the combined parliamentary opposition to funding for several projects and programmes they did not support. However, funding which was lumped with these contentious finances also suffered the same fate.
Speaking at a press briefing on Wednesday night (April, 16) Prime Minister Samuel Hinds said he was most disappointed with the Opposition’s move to withhold funding for several agencies which would result in increased hardship for thousands of Guyanese.
He said he was particularly disappointed with the disapproval of funding for the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) and the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project.
Among the other agencies for which funding was disapproved is the Office of the President, National Communications Network (NCN), Government Information Agency (GINA), Specialty Hospital, upgrading of Regional and District Hospitals, Amerindian Development Fund, Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Civil Aviation and Hinterland Airstrips, Rights Commission, Student Loan Fund, Poverty Programme and the Basic Needs Trust Fund among others.
Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh expressed his disappointment generally, stating that each cut has the potential to harm citizens and called for it to be condemned in the harshest possible way.
He was hopeful however, that the wound would heal, positing that it was the people of Guyana who will have to help heal the wound.
Meanwhile, Government Chief Whip Gail Teixeira described the Opposition’s actions as anti – national, anti – developmental and anti-people.
Turning her attention to the cut of over $5B to the Office of the President (OP), Teixeira said it was mean spirited, vicious and dangerous as she announced that all the President’s essential services were severely reduced.
She said the disapproval of the $1B Amerindian Development Fund and funding for hinterland airstrips was nothing short of an onslaught against the Amerindians.
The government explained that it will now have to rely on the legal opinion of the Attorney General, Court decisions and the constitution in deciding the way forward.
There was much hope from government ministers that the administration will recover and repair. In 2013 following similar cuts to the budget the government restored the money where it was insufficient.