No longer should the people of Guyana stand the bill for Members of Parliament (MPs) to enjoy huge quantities of “fancy” alcohol during sittings of the National Assembly.
Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo said this yesterday as he denounced the amount of money being “wasted” under the coalition government on food. This was during his weekly press conference held at his Church Street Office.
Jagdeo made reference to an article published in this newspaper which highlights the amount of money spent on food per sitting of the National Assembly—an estimated $700,000.
Today, Jagdeo suggested that the cost for alcohol might be just as much as the cost for food.
He said, “It’s not just food. It’s a huge amount of alcohol that gets consumed and imbibed in the Parliament… fancy, fancy liquor. The opposition leader said that it is simply “ridiculous.”
Jagdeo said that he consumes the food provided, but never indulges in the alcohol. He noted that he has a room at the Parliament Building and he has instructed that no alcoholic beverages be put there. “You can ask them, I told them not to put any alcohol there…I do not even touch the things they provide.”
Further, Jagdeo said that Opposition Members of Parliament would hardly ever, if at all, utilize alcohol provided by Parliament Office.
“They do eat. We eat. I eat the food. What do you suggest? I don’t go and eat the food? I eat the food, but I don’t drink the liquor,” I like eating too, and it’s not like its fancy food. It’s not fancy food, but it’s the alcohol part that I have a problem with,” said Jagdeo.
Jagdeo suggested that some members of Government are excessive with the imbibing during sittings.
Jagdeo recommended that systems be put in place to allow MPs to purchase alcohol if they desire to have a drink when they meet for sittings.
He said that a canteen should be considered, “let them buy their own liquor.”
Jagdeo said that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) government was much more conservative with its spending on food and alcohol, especially the alcohol.
He made it clear that he was not suggesting that legislators be made to eat out of boxes or that food be skimped.
But, food and drinks for parliament aside, Jagdeo said that this government has been proven to be lavish overall when it comes to dietary spending.
He said that the dietary expenditure for various agencies in the National Budget are huge.
Jagdeo said, “I have been talking about this over and over. Dietary is triple times what it used to be”.
Responding to questions about the food bill, Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs disclosed that the Assembly Committee of the National Assembly of the Parliament of Guyana considered and gave approval for a number of food suppliers to be invited through the restrictive bidding process, to bid for the supply of meals and snacks for sittings of the National Assembly and Committee Meetings.
The four suppliers that bid were Maggie’s Snackette and Catering Service; Ambience Restaurant and Catering Service; Carnegie School of Home Economics and Water Chris Hotel and Bar.
According to Isaacs, the contract was awarded by the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) on 5th July, 2018 to Maggie’s Snackette and Catering Service for the supply of meals and snacks for sittings of the National Assembly and Committee Meetings.
It was reported sometime back that the cost of every sitting, for food; for putting up MPs in hotels and for paying travelling from out of the region, among other things, was over $1.5M. But now, food alone is $700,000.
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