The Parliamentary Opposition has questioned the massive increase in the budgetary allocation for the Guyana Defense Force (GDF) for 2018, stating that these questions could not be asked in the examination of estimates because of the rush to get the budget passed.
Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Clement Rohee, who served as a former Home Affairs Minister, told reporters on Thursday that the GDF was awarded more money than the entire Agricultural Sector. In fact, he said that more monies are allocated to the security agency when compared to the allocations that were given to other administrative regions.
The People’s Progressive Party / Civic (PPP/C) MP argued that something was amiss as GDF’s allocation grew by a whopping $4B after it was increased from $8B in 2017 to $12B in 2018.
He said, “In the course of 2017, the Guyana Defense Force received a total of six supplementary allocations amounting $171.9M dollars…apart from what was budgeted for …in addition to that they received from the Contingencies fund $185M dollars bringing it to a total of $365M In addition to the money they received in 2017…these are big bucks.”
The PPP/C MP bemoaned the lack of transparency and accountability that was taking place within the GDF, highlighting that it was affecting the financial health of the entity and its ability to follow the laws as well as regulations outlined in the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act.
According to Rohee, financial improprieties were taking place at the Ministry of the Presidency and the GDF is being used to hide monies as a slush fund which would in turn be accessed for political and other questionable practices.
“You have cases where projects are being embarked upon by the GDF, contractors are being paid huge sums in advance but the project was never completed…when these matters are raised in the Public Accounts Committee over the years, they accept the deficiencies”, Rohee said.
Rohee also expressed disappointment with the manner in which the Speaker Dr Barton Scotland handled the entire situation relating to the examination of the estimates, noting that he was barred from asking very important questions on the estimates.
Concerns were also raised about the implementation of the recommendations which arose from the Commission of Inquiry into the state of veterans here and the conceptualization of a master plan to deal with other issues affecting the operational aspects of the GDF.