House approves estimates for Foreign Affairs

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The budgetary allocations for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were approved yesterday when the House dissolved into the Committee of Supply. Approximately $3.7B has been approved for the ministry to continue its mandate of developing and promoting the country’s trade and foreign policies within the region, and internationally.

DSC_5217Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira asked whether the decline in number of contracted employees was a result of the recall of Ambassadors and Heads of Missions, and whether the allocations for benefits and allowances deal with handling benefits and allowances of the said non-career diplomats.

In response, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge indicated that the reduction reflects staff who are currently in overseas posting.

Addressing the issue of the recall of Ambassadors and Heads of Missions, he explained that a number of them would have retired or their contracts ended.

“In respect of benefits they were contracted on the understanding that as non-career diplomats their contracts would come to an end when the life of the government came to an end…it must be noted that they were retained way beyond the time the government came to an end …no one was sent home overnight,” Minister Greenidge explained.

Asked to clarify the capital expenditure allocations associated with foreign policy promotion, Minister Greenidge explained that the $30M was for improved accommodation and security.

“The roof and security system of the Guyanese Embassy in Washington, the compound, offices and kitchen for the Embassy in Paramaribo and windows and ceiling for the Guyana High Commission in London and installation of security system of Guyanese Embassy in Caracas…” Minister Greenidge said.

Further, a $24M allocation will be used to purchase two vehicles, one each for the Heads of Mission in Pretoria, South Africa and the other for Geneva.

Teixeira also questioned why such a meagre figure of $500,000 was allocated for refunds of revenues. Minister Greenidge indicated that the figure pertains to refund of persons who would have applied for passports. “They would have subsequently changed their minds before it was actually issued so we have to refund the money to those persons.”

The Minister of Foreign Affairs in reflecting on this policy to bring it in line with the international standard noted, that, “If you pay the US or the UK money for a passport and you don’t get it, you lose your money so it’s something we are looking at,” the Foreign Affairs Minister said.

 

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