Jan 18, 2014 News
The opposition coalition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) says that it remains hopeful that consultation with government over the 2014 budget would be reached.
However hope is rapidly draining away taking into consideration that it will be presented in March and budget arrangements and submissions by the respective Ministries would have been done already while no substantial talks between the opposition and government have commenced.
APNU said that its position was that a tripartite Budget Commission be established because of the importance of the budget, however it didn’t happen in 2011 when it was first advanced, in 2012, or in 2013 even though President Donald Ramotar promised to initiate a new process on the first of July last year.
Leader of APNU David Granger expressed that “real face to face consultation has not taken place…there has been some engagement but the concerns of APNU have not been taken on board by the Minister of Finance Dr. Ashni Singh up to the present time so we cannot expect that in the remaining two months we would be able to cover sufficient ground. The budget is a very complicated document with three huge volumes like an encyclopedia and it calls for a lot of data, people cannot simple produce a shopping list and expect that shopping list to be accepted. We have to be given the information on which to base our plans. The government has all that information, it has all the technicians and I would say we have been sidelined from the process up to the present time.”
Granger added that the government is playing a very “dangerous game” in denying them the opportunity to contribute meaningfully through the consultative process and feels that the budget which is in its advanced stages of preparation has not incorporated the main concerns of APNU.
According to Granger, while he recognizes the responsibility of the executives for the final preparation of the budget, there is now a different dispensation in the National Assembly and as such they have called for a consultative process so that the majority can have its concerns addressed in the budget.
The opposition leader said that they will continue to exercise their action to reduce funding in areas where they feel there is no “transparency or the money is not being used for a proper purpose. “In the case of the National Communication Network for example we cut the funding because we feel that the opposition parties do not have adequate coverage, or do not have access with the State media, the Chronicle, NCN, or GINA and many of the positions taken by the opposition is not covered so we cut that.”
According to Granger, APNU didn’t “cut for the sake of cutting,” but cuts were made to insure that reforms are put in place as was the case with the Guyana Sugar Corporation, and Guyana Power and Light (GPL) . “So we don’t go to the National Assembly to cut, we go to the National Assembly to force the government to implement reforms and that is what is going to happen unless the government calls us in, consults with us and take our concerns on board.”
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