Nov 01, 2008 News
… passes legislation for further $2.8B
By Gary Eleazar
Guyana’s contribution of almost $300M to the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF) was approved when the National Assembly yesterday passed the second Supplementary Appropriations Bill for the year, allowing the use of some $2,832,109,413 to be extracted from the Contingencies Fund for spending in addition to the largest budget that was ever read in this country.
The monies were outlined in the Financial Paper No. 3/2008 – Supplementary Estimates (Current and Capital) totalling $1,848,047,997, and Financial Paper No. 4/2008 – Supplementary Estimates (Current and Capital) totalling $984,061,416 that were tabled by the Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh.
The National Assembly approved the sums in less than two hours yesterday. These sums include, inter alia, a figure of $298,208,232 that will represent Guyana’s initial contribution to the CDF.
To date, Dominica has contributed US$74,000; Trinidad and Tobago US$37M; St Kitts and Nevis US$660,000; St Vincent and the Grenadines US$679,000; St Lucia US$980,000; Barbados $US5M, Jamaica US$8.13M and Belize $US1.26M.
The development of the Fund is expected to cushion any shocks faced by smaller and more vulnerable economies and sectors within CARICOM, with the establishment of the CARICOM Single Market.
There were also $682M that were approved for the emergency repairs to the deteriorating Demerara Harbour Bridge, which President Bharrat Jagdeo recently condemned as almost criminal.
The Ministry of Agriculture benefited from a $600M allocation which is aimed at bulk purchase and resale of fertilisers to assist with the increased cost of food.
Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud told the House that the money will be used to pay for some 12,500 tonnes of fertilizer which will be retailed by the New Guyana Marketing Corporation at a price that will only cover expenses, and the money would be returned to the coffers.
He said that the money was requested to render assistance to farmers, given that buying in bulk would allow for the commodity to be purchased cheaper, hence it could be resold cheaper.
A sum of $50M was also approved for the payment of a reward in fighting crime.
Twenty million dollars of that money will go to the Guyana Police Force, while another $20M will go to the Guyana Defence Force. The remaining $10 will be turned over to the Defence Board Secretariat for disbursement.
The opposition failed to extract from the Junior Finance Minister, Dr Jennifer Webster, whether that money was the reward for the slaying of Rondell ‘Fine Man’ Rawlins, and whether the $10M for disbursement was for the informant.
The Guyana Defence Force will also be provided with in excess of $650M to meet expenditure related to special operations throughout Guyana.
On July 31 last, the National Assembly approved the first Supplementary Appropriations Bill, amounting to some $4.8B in Current and Capital estimates.
According to Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, the bulk of that money in the supplementary provisions sought, some $3.7B, is heading towards the Guyana Power and Light to avert an increase in tariffs, which was touted to be some 18.5 per cent and would have been passed down to consumers.
Among some of the other requests at that time was that of the Ministry of Agriculture, Crops and Livestock Services, which is requesting some $31.5M to meet costs associated with the purchase and resale of small packets of flour.
Increased flour prices earlier in the year forced Government to sell flour at a subsidised cost from May.
According to Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud, the flour was purchased from the National Milling Company and was resold at a lower rate.
The Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce also requested money to meet costs associated with cash transfers for bakers/biscuit flour, which was also an initiative earlier in the year to address the rising prices of flour.
The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport was successful in its request for some $11.7M to compensate for the fire at the National Cultural Centre, which was identified as a site for Carifesta events, hence emergency repairs had to be undertaken and some items had to be replaced.
Among some of the other sectors to put in requests are the Education Ministry and The Guyana Defence Force.
The monies requested will be in addition to the voted provisions in the $119B budget announced earlier this year. Last year, the National Assembly approved some $17B in supplementary provisions to the country’s $100B budget.
On several occasions over the years, the PNCR had been arguing that the Government has a tendency of raiding the Contingency Fund each time it requests money.
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