Mar 27, 2014 News
– millions more budgeted for FIU, NIS
Despite threats from the Opposition over subsidies to the state-owned National Communications Network (NCN), the administration has again allocated millions of dollars in the 2014 National Budget for that entity.
NCN, a semi-autonomous agency, falls under the Office of the President. It is set to receive an $81.7M subvention.
The complaints against NCN and the Government Information Agency (GINA) have been growing in recent years.
The Opposition parties, especially, have been complaining that GINA was heavily biased in its coverage. In the case of NCN, private television stations have been criticizing the fact that the entity has been allowed overtime to compete with them by attracting advertisements, yet the entity receives financial assistance from Government.
GINA has been earmarked to receive $140M for its operations this year.
Already, the Opposition has warned that like the previous two years, it will be looking to amend the budget of both NCN and GINA.
The National Assembly, following the 2011 General and Regional Elections which handed the ruling party its first Parliamentary defeat in nearly two decades, has been grappling with the Opposition holding the majority. The Opposition in 2012 immediately reduced billions of dollars from the budget saying it was not satisfied with how the monies for a number of key infrastructural projects will be spent.
Last year, the cuts continued.
Government restored the budget to both entities last year after a controversial court decision which said that the National Assembly does not have the right to make cuts.
Also this year, as is normal, a number of other organizations and offices are set to receive subsidies from OP, which in overall amounts to $847.5M.
These include the Guyana Energy Agency -$73.5M; Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest) -$119.7M; Institute of Applied Science and Technology (IAST) -$122.5M and Integrity Commission -$17.1M.
The newly established Office of the Commissioner of Information, headed by former Attorney General, Charles Ramson, has a budget for $28.5M while the Office of the First Lady is earmarked for $10M.
Subsidies under the Ministry of Finance, according to the estimates of revenue and expenditure, are also significant. Almost $8.27B in subsidies and contributions are earmarked this year for 12 agencies.
These include the all important Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), a regulatory body that will have the all-important task of overseeing Guyana’s implementation of critical anti-money laundering regulations. That body will receive $73.7M, up from the almost $52M spent last year.
The other agencies also include Ethnic Relations Commission -$61.9M; Guyana Revenue Authority -$4.1B and LinMine Power – $2.8B.
Significantly, the National Insurance Scheme has $226M earmarked for it…some $116M more than last year. This particular allocation is bound to raise eyebrows from the Opposition when the debates began as NIS has been struggling for a while with the number of contributors falling and expenses rising significantly.
A significant subsidy increase this year will be to the Statistical Bureau which if approved could receive allocations of $327M, more than $80M more than 2013.
The Office of the Opposition Leader has also been seeing increases in recent years of Government subsidies. In 2013, while $8.1M was allocated, $13.7M was expended. This year, $15.2M has been budgeted.
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