$37 million allocation to Opposition Leader’s Office sufficient -Speaker Nadir
-says office received more money than 2020
Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Manzoor Nadir says the $37 million allocated to the Office of the Leader of the Opposition for its current expenditure is sufficient.
The Speaker was at the time responding to allegations from the Opposition, that its allocation had been drastically reduced. During an interview with DPI on Tuesday, Speaker Nadir said the Opposition Leader’s office could not receive a budgetary increase of more than 200 per cent.
“This $92.2 million which was requested is 260 per cent of what the Leader of the Opposition Office received in 2020. In no way, no agency, no Government Ministry does anyone get 260 per cent increase. You might see a new programme, but then you will see other programmes being cut.
So, the overall budget for a Ministry doesn’t go up by 260 per cent. If we had a budget that increase as a whole of 260 per cent, then everybody would have gotten those wishes. But the budget is cut to fit the revenues stream that flow into Government,” the Speaker said.
Mr. Nadir also said the $37 million for current expenditure is in keeping with the yearly allocation for the Office of the Leader of the Opposition.
“Last year, as I said, $35 million was allocated to the Leader of the Opposition Office. This year, it is over $37 million for the current expenditure. Last year, between January and August, when the Leader of the Opposition then was … [Vice] President Jagdeo, he received $19.2 million and this was an allocation made by the PPP/C Government to the Leader of the Opposition to cover his expenses from January 1st to August 31st…
For the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Joseph Harmon’s Office from September to December, we allocated from the Parliamentary budget, $16.1 million, which is $4 million on average a month, but we had allocated for Dr. Jagdeo was about $2.4 million a month.”
For the years 2018, 2019 and 2020, the Office received $34.5 million, $37 million and $35 million, respectively.
The Opposition Leader’s Office had also requested $48.3 million for its capital expenditure for 2021; however, only $5 million was granted. Speaker Nadir said the Parliament Office erred by stating that $19.7 million was approved for capital expenditure, but this was corrected and the $5 million is sufficient for the effective running of the Office.
“There is no reason for the Parliament Office and my Office to stymie, disable or prevent the Leader of the Opposition Office from functioning.”
Mr. Nadir said it is unreasonable for the allocation to the Opposition Leader’s Office to increase astronomically, as it would put a strain on the Parliament Office, which also funds the Office for the Opposition.
“We would have had to cut other programmes in the Parliament Office to cater for that budget. So, the Hansard may not have been able to come out in a reasonable time; we would have had to cut committee meetings; we would have had to look at the internet fees; the rentals for the Convention Centre; the meals for the Parliamentarians; the travelling to bring Parliamentarians out.”
He said the staff of the Parliament Office erred by reducing the budget of the Opposition Leader’s Office by six per cent, from the requested sum.
He said he is unsure of the origin of the formula used for the initial reduction.