[www.inewsguyana.com] – The ruling People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has balked at the Speaker’s proposal by which parliamentary parties can resolve differences related to contentious budget estimates and avoid them being cut.
The 2014 Budget is currently being considered in the Parliamentary Committee of Supply line by line before it is ultimately passed in the National Assembly. Speaker Raphael Trotman had proposed the setting up of a sub-committee of the Committee of Supply to consider any contentious budget items. He said that this sub-committee would have served to see if the government and opposition could find compromise on those contentious issues.
However, PPP General Secretary Clement Rohee suggested that the Speaker’s proposals were not grounded in the Parliamentary Standing Orders and so the PPP could not agree to the mechanism.
“Any internal mechanism that is established in the National Assembly has to be guided by the Standing Orders,” Rohee said at a press conference held at Public Buildings just before the Committee of Supply entered Day Five for the consideration of the budget estimates.
Already, the Opposition parties have voted against funding in the Health, Amerindian Affairs and Public Works sectors.
Just before the opposition parties voted against funding for the Specialty Hospital [$910 million] and other spending in the health sector which were grouped under the same heading as the hospital, both opposition parties said they were willing to thrash out contentious issues in the sub-committee arrangement proposed by the Speaker; but the government declined.
Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira said the opposition had served notice of areas it intended to cut and that notice did not leave the door open for consultations.
Rohee told reporters that even though the talks were proposed on the floor, the PPP was not willing take the jump given past experience.
“We have been around for a while,” he quipped.
Rohee said that as far as the PPP was concerned, the arrangement the Speaker proposed was based on his opinion, and consideration of the Budget was a “serious matter” that could not be dictated by opinion.
Further, he said that the PPP was not consulted before the Speaker laid out his opinion on a way forward if there are disagreements on the estimates.
The Committee of Supply is due to complete its work next Thursday. Whatever spending the Committee votes on will then be reported to the full House by the Minister of Finance. Whatever the estimates are, the Minister reports to the House will then have to be voted on and those estimates will then be used to draft an Appropriations Bill.
That Appropriations Bill will then have to be voted on by the House and then assented to by the President; once the President assents to the Bill then the 2014 budget could be implemented.