PPP’s motion to include US$18M oil bonus in 2018 Budget dismissed by Speaker

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-Illegality being perpetrated by the House if monies not incorporated – Jagdeo

The People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) on Friday in the National Assembly advanced a motion to incorporate the US$18M signing bonus that Government received from ExxonMobil into the 2018 Budget.

Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland

The motion called for Finance Minister, Winston Jordan, to amend the financial estimates of the revenues and expenditures to reflect the US$18M which was not placed into the Consolidated Fund even though the monies were reportedly received since 2016 as an account was set up at the Bank of Guyana to receive same.

The motion argues that revenues or other monies received or raised by Guyana shall be paid into the Consolidated Fund and described the incorporation of the US$18M as being complaint with the Constitution and Laws of Guyana.

The motion which was presented by Leader of the Opposition, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, on behalf of his colleague Irfaan Ali who was unavoidably absent, was dismissed by Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Barton Scotland who contended that the motion did not satisfy the criteria of being of urgent importance since the issue was raised in the House about a week ago and the Opposition only approached the House when the consideration of the estimates are scheduled to conclude.

However, the Opposition Leader posited that the issue has not been long in the public domain and that it is urgent since if the estimates are passed without incorporating the US$18M signing bonus then an “illegality would have been perpetrated by the House.”

Opposition Leader, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

“If we were to pass these estimates as presented by the Minister of Finance we would knowingly agree to an illegality that is being perpetrated by this House. I can demonstrate clearly that it is illegal to withhold money received as revenue and not pay into the Consolidated Fund or any other fund provided by the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act (FMA) 2003,” said Jagdeo.

The Opposition Leader pleaded with the Government to consider the ramifications of its action and take whatever time was needed to correct the act that he deemed a breach of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act.

But the Speaker opted again to look at procedural issues.

At a press conference immediately after the denial of the motion, the Opposition Leader said that the outcome was one that was predictable since the Speaker is known to shield the Government from the level of scrutiny they deserve.

Jagdeo stressed that the rules governing the handling of public monies are clear and public monies cannot be handled in a discretionary manner. He reiterated that if the estimates are approved in its current state then the House would be knowingly aiding an illegality.

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