…reasons create doubt among MPs
One hundred fifty-three days after Guyana’s largest ever ($143B) budget was approved in the National Assembly, Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh has moved to the House seeking approval for an additional $2,426,470,077.
The Ministry of Public Works and Communication will be the biggest beneficiary from this latest request for money. It will get $1.5B for the building of miscellaneous roads. This is in addition to just over $1.4B that the Ministry already received by way of budgetary allocations.
Under the description of “Office and Residence of the President” some $17.3M is being requested. The budget has already given $30M.
That money is said to be used as provisions for additional works at the Intelligent Service Unit at Castellani House.
Also, the Finance Minister is seeking approval for an additional $35M for development of agricultural lands in Essequibo. These lands have not been identified. No one knows where they are and what the works will be.
Minister Ashni Singh is also requesting some $184M for the construction of a tarmac at the National Stadium and $124M for street lighting in Berbice.
In addition to the $990M voted for the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority, another $36M is being asked for the purchase of a long boom excavator to be used in Wakenaam.
The New Guyana Marketing Corporation is also slated to receive a $13.3M subsidy.
Several other Ministries and entities such as the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation are to benefit from the supplementary provisions being asked for.
Supplementary provisions are sought when the budgetary allocations are exhausted or for emergency works.
These are not emergencies, one Member of Parliament said. Others said that there are no proper explanations and this seems to be another way of seeking to access money from the Treasury.
The Finance Minister tabled the first two Financial Supplementary papers for 2010 for debate. More than likely they will be approved for expenditure.
The resort to Financial Supplementary papers has long been criticized.
Members of the Opposition have been questioning the validity of the manner in which the moneys are used given that the expenditure, according to them, does not fit the criterion.
Section 41 (3) of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act says that the Finance Minister, who is the sole authority to do so, may make such a withdrawal, “when satisfied that an urgent, unavoidable and unforeseen need for expenditure has arisen:-
(a) for which no moneys have been appropriated or for which the sum appropriated is insufficient;
(b) for which moneys cannot be reallocated as provided for under this Act; or
(c) which cannot be deferred without injury to the public interest, may approve a Contingencies Fund advance as an expenditure out of the Consolidated Fund by the issuance of a drawing right.”
The most recent controversy on the use of the Supplementary Provisions related to a $4B allocation to the Housing Ministry.
It was subsequently discovered that the moneys were spent long before approval was ever sought.
Opposition speakers had called the money a bailout to the struggling Guyana Sugar Corporation when the Ministry had paid it over to purchase land in Diamond, East Bank Demerara, but from the details in the 2010 budget it was evident that no developmental works was scheduled.
Good Hope vigilante death…
Detainees released on $200,000 bail each
Five men who were detained following the beating to death of a burglar in the Good Hope, East Coast Demerara community were yesterday released on $200,000 bail each.
The men were sent home as investigators have so far not found enough evidence to lay charges.
This was despite Police Commissioner Henry Greene announcing last Tuesday that the police have received a statement implicating at least two of the detainees.
Greene told reporters that detectives have obtained statements that indicate that the occupants of the home in which the burglar was caught had participated in the beating of the now dead man Kurt Mayers.
But residents are maintaining that the occupants of the house had merely defended themselves and it was several other residents who carried out the beating on Mayers.
Mayers died at the Georgetown Hospital hours after he was picked up by the police who were summoned to the area by residents.
Three of the villagers who were in police custody had to be taken to the Enmore Polyclinic for treatment of injuries they sustained when they confronted Mayers.
Mahendra Persaud, a Maintenance Manager at the Tower Hotel, his brother Muneshwar, a forestry official with a local logging company, neighbours Shailendra Singh and his father Shawn, and Christopher Gooding, were all taken into custody when they went to the Vigilance Police Station to give statements in relation to the matter.
Mahendra Persaud sustained a laceration to his head while his brother Muneshwar was severely bitten during the confrontation with the intruder.
According to reports, the Persauds were asleep in their home last Tuesday morning when Mayers gained entry by removing a few louvre panes from a window at the back of the house.
The intruder entered one bedroom where he ransacked and removed several articles unknown to the sleeping occupants. However when he entered another room occupied by Muneshwar Persaud, his luck ran out.
A strange feeling of someone standing over him aroused Persaud. He got up and confronted the intruder who battled desperately with him.
By then his brother Mahendra was awakened by the commotion and went to his brother’s rescue and as they struggled with the intruder, he was bitten on his back.
Despite the heavy rain, the commotion aroused neighbours and several of them responded and managed to subdue the intruder who was subsequently handed over to the police after a merciless beating.
The men are to report to the police every Monday to facilitate further investigations.
Another suspect remanded for Phone Depot robbery
Magistrate Hazel Octive-Hamilton yesterday refused to grant bail to a man accused of carrying out five armed robberies in a day.
Leon Watson, 21, of Sussex Street, Charlestown, was not required to plead to five counts of robbery under arms when he appeared in court.
It is alleged that on April 3, armed with a gun, Watson robbed Ameer Lamad, of a quantity electronics valued at $10.4M, the property of Phone Depot.
A second charge stated that Watson, on the same day robbed Damion Greenidge of articles worth $110,000.
Thirdly, Watson is accused of robbing Vishal Roopchand of $16,000 cash and a number of other articles valued $111,000.
The penultimate charge stated that the accused robbed Roddick Lake of articles to the tune of $345,000.
And lastly Watson was accused of robbing Alistair Hawke of $118,560.
Attorney at law Sasha Roberts appeared on behalf of the accused.
The lawyer in a bail application said that her client has a strong alibi. According to Ms. Roberts, on the day in question when the robberies took place, her client was at work.
“My worship Mr. Watson was at work and his boss could attest to that…….he knows nothing about the robberies,” the lawyer stated.
Roberts further told the court that the police never conducted an identification parade.
Police Prosecutor Shellon Daniels objected to bail, on the seriousness of the offences. She said that Watson has other matters pending in the court, and as such the court should take cognizance.
The magistrate remanded the accused. He is now expected to make another court appearance on Friday.
Four other persons were previously charged with the $10.4M robbery at Phone Depot.
The men, Corwin Heywood, Ulric London, Dwayne Graham, and Dwayne Isaacs, along with Watson, allegedly stormed into the store and snatched a number of mainly electronic items.
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