A significant piece of legislation geared at allowing key bodies financial independence was yesterday passed in the National Assembly.
No longer depending on the relevant subject ministers for money will be the Public Service Commission, the Police Service Commission, the Office of the Ombudsman, Parliament and the Guyana Elections Commission, among others.
The Fiscal Management and Accountability (Amendment) Bill 2015 was passed unopposed in the absence of the Opposition, allowing for lump sum payments to be made to them free from the automatic obligations and the discretionary powers exercised by the Minister of Finance.
Minister of Finance Winston Jordan explained that there are checks and balances in place to ensure that abuse does not take place, as annual reports and audited financial statements will be required to be prepared and presented.
Jordan made it clear that the bodies must enjoy fiscal autonomy so that they can serve the Guyanese people. It will prevent the executive from micro-managing the finances of budgetary agencies.
Under previous arrangement, the bodies were at the mercy of the ministries, having to apply for simple things like monies to travel.
Jordan made it clear that the drawing of the monies for the bodies from the Consolidated Fund as a direct charge is not outside of the national budget, nor is it trampling on or fiddling with it. The new arrangements will serve to boost public confidence in the offices.
There have been accusations that the previous administration had used the budget dependency as a means to control the constitutional bodies.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge, noted that the proposed legislation, once implemented, will strike down provisions which sought to undermine the independence of those bodies. He added that an examination of the Bill in its previous state would find that it was ill-conceived, as Article 222 A of the Constitution was not respected.
Minister within the Ministry of Finance, Jaipaul Sharma, in his presentation indicated that the Bill in its previous state contravened Article 8 of the Constitution, and he voiced his support for the legislation.
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