Opposition threatens action against Finance Minister for ‘impropriety’ over monies given to NCN, GINA

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By Kurt Campbell

Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh.
Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh.

[www.inewsguyana.com] – A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Member of Parliament Carl Greenidge has threatened to take action against Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh for utilizing $217,194,998 from the consolidated fund to finance the operations of the National Communication Network (NCN) and the Government Information Agency (GINA) both of whose budgets’ were reduced to $1 by the Opposition during the 2013 budget debates.

During the presentation and debate on the financial paper at Thursday’s (December 12) sitting of the House, the Finance Minister explained that the monies were utilized to meet the shortfalls of the two agencies which included paying staff.

A total of $135,857,999 was utilized on GINA while $81,336,999 was utilized on NCN.

However, the Opposition collectively shared the view that the utilization of this money without seeking the approval of the House was unlawful.

Greenidge questioned the relevance of coming to the House for approval when the money was already spent. He argued that the act is an offence and does not meet requirements set out in the constitution.

He further stated that the scenario demonstrates the Government’s continued abuse of power. The Finance Minister maintained however that he appropriated the funds in keeping with requirements in the constitution. He said he had no other choice but to finance the state agencies whose allocations were grossly insufficient.

Meanwhile, Alliance for Change (AFC) Leader Khemraj Ramjattan said that the allocations to the two agencies were reduced intentionally for a reason and for the Minister to fund those agencies without the consent of the Parliamentary Opposition was an insult to that half of the House.

The back and forth over the legality of spending the money continues and saw inputs from Junior Finance Minister Juan Edghill and APNU MP Basil Willams among others.

The Speaker of the National Assembly, Raphael Trotman however shared a view that the Minister can in fact make proposals for more money or may use money for shortfalls and in so doing has the right to come to the National Assembly for same.

APNU's Shadow Finance Minister, Carl Greenidge.
APNU’s Shadow Finance Minister, Carl Greenidge.

The opposition in the end voted against the allocation the financial paper totaling $3,384,528,708. The House will also consider appropriations for the Guyana Power and Light, the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Hinterland Airstrips, Specialty Hospital and the Civil Aviation Authority.

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