…as Govt. shuts down Linden TV transmission to prove a point
By Gary Eleazar
The consideration of the Budgetary Estimates for Office of the President,
Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Finance has been deferred to today. The deferral was to facilitate continued extra-parliamentary budget negotiations between A Partnership for National Unity, Office of the President and the Alliance for Change. The parties met late last evening
The announcement was made yesterday to the House by Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, when he briefed the Members of Parliament on the ongoing negotiations between David Granger and his delegation along with Head of State Donald Ramotar.
The Prime Minister used the opportunity to remind the House that the ongoing talks at Office of the President are aimed at avoiding any possible collision as it relates to the 2012 Budget.
Prior to yesterday’s session of the Parliament’s Standing Committee of Supply, APNU personnel briefed media operatives saying that, “APNU and the Alliance for Change (AFC) have decided to stand on common ground to resist the passage of the 2012 National Budget unless significant changes are implemented in the public interest.”
APNU’s Carl Greenidge yesterday conceded that the proposals on the agenda for the meetings between APNU and Ramotar could not readily be addressed by reducing budget heads.
He said that APNU is looking to the government for concrete commitments as it relates to the way forward and on issues on the agenda.
Granger informed media operatives that among the items on the agenda are: Reduction in the Value-Added Tax rate; Reduction in the Berbice River Bridge toll rate; Increase in the salaries of public servants; Effectively re-establishing the functioning of Public Service Collective Bargaining; Cease the blatant abuse of the mechanism of Contract Employees in the Public Service; Increase in the subvention to the University of Guyana; Increase in the retirement age of public servants; Guarantee the independence of the constitutional offices – Parliament Office; GECOM and the Service Commissions – by their removal as Budget Agencies under the Office of the President and ensure that they receive their subventions directly from the Consolidated Fund; Restructure GuySuCo and GPL to make them into viable corporations; Restructure NICIL to bring its financial assets into the Consolidated Fund; Restructure GINA and NCN to make them into responsible national institutions; Establish the long delayed Constitutionally mandated Public Procurement Commission as a matter of urgency and Establish appropriate arrangements for the governance of key projects and entities, ranging from NICIL, the Amaila Falls Hydro power project and the NIS, with a view to greater transparency in decision-making, eliminating corruption and making them more responsive to public wishes.
On Monday, last, both APNU and the AFC submitted notice for two motions which proposed cuts targeting Office of the President, Office of the Prime Minister and the Finance Ministry.
Among the programmes that have come under the threat of a budgetary cut, are the transfer of some $6B to the Guyana Power and Light inc., $18B for the Low Carbon Development Programmes and the subventions for the National Communications Network (NCN) and Government Information Agency (GINA), among others.
The announcement in the House was made against the backdrop of a small, yet spritely protest headed by Mohamed ‘Fuzzy’ Sattaur , Chief Executive Officer for the State-owned NCN.
Among some of the other senior functionaries at this protest were Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall, Housing and Water Minister Irfaan Ali, Culture Youth and Sport Minister Dr Frank Anthony and Junior Finance Minster Bishop Juan Edghill.
Sattaur lamented the effects of the proposed cuts and said that the decision to protest was made even in light of the ongoing negotiations at Office of the President.
He also conceded that during the course of the morning a decision was taken to deliberately turn off the transmission for NCN being broadcast in Linden. This, Sattaur said, was done to prove a point and illustrate what could be the likely effect of the cut being accommodated.
He also defended the operations of the state-owned television and said that the perceived government bias in its programming is simply a perception and not based in fact.
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