…as Housing Minister refuses to speak further on contentious $4B
Yesterday’s sitting of the National Assembly commenced with an apology to the House by Alliance For Change Chairman Khemraj Ramjattan for statements made to this newspaper as it relates to the Parliamentary Hansard being tampered with
“I have listened to the tape and listened to it several times…I have compared that with the Hansard and they both correspond…The Hansard has not been tampered with…I apologise”
He also charged that it has turned out the Minister was not representing the truth in the Assembly, but was forced to retract that statement after an objection by PPP Parliamentarian Gail Teixeira.
This, however, was not the end of the contentious matter as the house began scrutiny of the expenditure that Ramjattan , along with Shadow Finance Minister Winston Murray, sought to have the Housing Minister Irfaan Ali to accept that the $4B appropriation that was approved in January this year, was in fact spent in 2009.
That allocation was for the development of infrastructure in new areas and payment of retention
Murray in his question to the Minister, asked where was the sum shown in the budget estimates, given the fact that the monies could not be spent until after the President has assented to the Bill and this was done in 2010, but the monies identified for this year was $680M.
Ali told the House that he is willing to pronounce on the 2010 provisions, adding that the supplementary that Murray was seeking to question him on was already extensively debated on.
Murray whilst conceding that he is aware of the 2010 budgetary provision, continued to press to find out where the monies approved this year were reflected.
Ali in turn told the House that the monies to which Murray was speaking was already debated, “and I have nothing to add to that.”
Following this, Ramjattan pointed out to the House that under the programme in question, it identifies some $4B in addition to the budgeted amount of $430M that was spent in 2009, “this is the crisis that caused my apology and you don’t want to answer the question.”
Ramjattan continuously called on the Housing Minister to confirm if the $4B was not the money approved in 2010 but was actually spent in 2009.
Ramjattan, who was corrected by the Speaker when he played the recording to Ali during the January 11 debate when the money was approved, recalled that the Minister had said, “we are ready to spend it, as against we already spent it.”
Try as he may, Ramjattan was unable to get the Minister to say anything else on the matter.
Murray questioned the Housing Minister as to where the infrastructure work for 2010 would be executed, only to find out that no work was scheduled for Diamond.
This prompted the Shadow Finance Minister to chide Ali for moving to the House for a supplementary and no work will be done there this year.
“It means that you are doing no work in respect of the land you paid $4B for…why were you in such a hurry if you were not going to spend any money to develop the land?”
Murray opined that the money was a bailout for GuySuCo.
“You wanted to bail out GuySuCo why don’t we face it…why did you spend this money if you did not want to follow it up with works in 2010.”
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