By Jomo Paul
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Incoming Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo says he hopes the $23B allocated to the rice sector in the 2015 budget is not just an empty promise meant to appease stakeholders in the rice industry.
Finance Minister Winston Jordan had stated that over $23 billion has been allocated in the budget to support further payments to over 7,000 rice farmers. This is in the context of the current inability of the PetroCaribe Fund to meet these payments. Jordan said that the PetroCaribe fund stands at US$800,000.
However, Former President Jagdeo at a press conference on Tuesday stated that while he was pleased with the allocation to the sector, there are still some uncertainties about the plan and whether it was “real money” being doled out.
“I am thinking what they may be doing is a dummy transaction with subsidies for rice industry,” said the Former President.
He also told reporters that from the monies allocated, rice farmers should be able to receive at least $8000 per bag of paddy from millers.
Jagdeo indicated too that some stakeholders will soon be meeting with the Finance Minister Winston Jordan to ascertain how exactly the farmers will access the funds.
Meanwhile, Jagdeo has raised concerns about the eligibility of two local auditors to conduct forensic audits of government accounts since the two entities were awarded contracts for the job without it going to tender.
According to him, the PPP was ready to challenge those appointed but decided against it lest the Party be accused of having something to hide. According to him, the auditing services could rake-up a bill of over $150M and the PPP opposition aims to hold the government accountable on every penny spent via the Public Accounts Committee. When the PPP decided to go to Parliament it will have control over that committee.