Dec 27, 2015 News
– Appropriation for Constitutional and other agencies to be approved first
By Kiana Wilburg
The accomplishments this year for the Ministry of Finance are many. But Finance Minister, Winston Jordan said that he is particularly pleased that the budget for 2016 can be expected as early as January.
Yesterday, Jordan said that consultations were held with various stakeholders on the budget and he is proud of what he and his team at the Ministry have been able to accomplish thus far.
However, when it comes to consultations with the political opposition, the Finance Minister said that this did not go according to what was planned. He said that he did as instructed and that was to invite the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) to discussions. Jordan said that the PPP, instead of accepting the invite, laid out a number of conditions which should be met before the meeting.
He said, “The opposition replied to my invitation saying that before they meet with us for discussions on the budget, they want a number of documents and these are documents which we don’t even have. Plus, they said that they want to speak on a number of matters, particularly as it relates to the restoration of a number of PPP projects and initiatives.
“That is not how it is done. They want certain conditions before real talk on the 2016 budget can begin but we intend to push forward. My door is always open to them.
Jordan noted, too, that when the National Assembly meets on Wednesday, the appropriation for Constitutional and other agencies will be presented to the House. He said that these have to be approved first and then integrated into the final budget. Once merged, those monies appropriated will remain untouched.
Some of these agencies include the Office of the Ombudsman, Parliament, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and the Police Service Commission.
In November, Jordan had said that once the ideas and proposals of the People’s Progressive Party / Civic are “viable and within government’s agenda,” the opposition may very well see some of its input being reflected in the 2016 budget. But this is unlikely to happen given the Opposition’s position at the moment.
Irfaan Ali who has responsibility for the finance sector, had said that Government has a track record for showing no respect for the opposition’s recommendations in general.
The former Housing Minister had said, “We have made our views public and would have outlined many interventions. But they have been shown total disregard by the government.
“Take for example the rice issue. We presented nine recommendations to help the farmers in boosting the industry and safeguarding their livelihood. To date, we have heard nothing in relation to these recommendations from the Government.”
He said that this may be a very good indication of how seriously Government would take its proposals for the 2016 budget.
Ali asserted that the PPP has called and will continue to call on Government to deliver to the rice farmers, nurses and teachers and other public servants, what was promised to them in the 100-day plan.
As for the 2016 budget, the PPP executive member said that his party will lobby for the reinstatement of the “Because we care grant” and the water and light subsidy for old age pensioners. Ali insists that these are matters which must be addressed.
“We will call upon the government to implement all the projects we negotiated with the Indian Government in the US$50 million line of credit inclusive of the IT Centre of Excellence negotiated by the (former) PPP/C Government.
“The Government must realize by now that they also blundered badly on the Amaila Falls Hydro project and we are convinced that they will have to implement this project if we want to expand our economy.”
The Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee said that the PPP will also insist that Government aggressively bring back on stream, the Low Carbon Development Strategy and implement the projects and programmes conceptualized under this programme.
Ali said that he will lobby the government to ensure that the Amerindian livelihood programme be reinstated immediately as well as the reinstatement of the almost 2000 Amerindian youths fired by the coalition Government.
He added, “The Hinterland airstrips that were cut out of the budget by this government must be completed and implemented immediately.”
The former minister said that “confidence cannot be restored with the continuous ethnic purge that is taking place in Public Service. The Loss of professional services and wanton firing of young people and experienced public officials based on political affiliation and ethnicity must be addressed as well.”
The gridlock between Government and the opposition in this regard was also evident during the planning of the 2015 budget.
The Finance Minister recalled the challenges he encountered during his first interaction with the Opposition’s representatives at that time. He said that during that time, he found himself in a situation where he had to set the record straight on a number of allegations, particularly from PPP General Secretary, Clement Rohee.
Some of these accusations had to do with the Petro Caribe Fund being empty and witch-hunting by the Granger administration. The Finance Minister said that he had addressed Rohee on each contention leveled against the government.
The Finance Minister said that when the delegation turned up at the Finance Ministry, he gave the floor to Rohee “who started right away with accusations of how we are witch-hunting, how we are destroying the economy and how they left a good economy.”
Jordan added, “All along I waited to hear what ideas they were bringing to the table. My letter to them clearly said an exchange of ideas on the 2015 budget. But I did not hear anything about that.”
The Finance Minister said that he had explained to Rohee, the framework of the budget as well as what was inherited from the previous administration.
Jordan said, “I told him what was inherited from last year in relation to rice and sugar and how the mining sector was shaping up. It is going to be a three-month budget and there is nothing much that can be done now.”
He added, “They could have even given ideas that could be used for the 2016 budget but I got nothing. Eventually he (Rohee) said he has to go back and consult with his party and then they will give us a response. Couple hours later, they sent what appeared to be extracts of our 100-day plan.”
The Finance Minister emphasized that the entire point of the consultations on the budget was for him to learn from the opposition what they would like to see within the budget and issues they may have with the framework.
But regardless of the troubles in the beginning, Jordan said that he remains willing to engage the opposition at any time on matters in relation to the economy.
Pres. Ali begging for loans!!
Jan 30, 2023– Winners announced at gala ceremony last night Kaieteur News – The country’s top-performing athletes and officials were in the spotlight last night at the National Sports Awards,...
Jan 30, 2023
Jan 30, 2023
Jan 30, 2023
Jan 29, 2023
Jan 29, 2023
Kaieteur News – I wrote several times on this page that you cannot prevent people from disrespecting you. You cannot... more
Kaieteur News – There is a certain person in the government who can be caustic criticizing members of the Opposition.... more
By Sir Ronald Sanders (The writer is Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States of America and the Organization... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]