Constitutional Agencies’ Budgets get the nod from Parliament

– process continuing to go smoothly after strengthened and streamlined through FMAA Amendment in 2021          

The Budgets for all Constitutional Agencies were today approved in the National Assembly after examination of the Estimates of Expenditure and queries by Opposition Members with responses provided by Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance Gail Teixeira during the 59th Sitting of the Twelfth Parliament. The Agencies comprise the Parliament Office, Audit Office of Guyana, Public and Police Service Commissions, Teaching Service Commission, the Guyana Elections Commission, the Supreme Court of Judicature, Public Prosecutions, the Office of the Ombudsman, the Public Service Appellate Tribunal, the Ethnic Relations Commission, the Judicial Service Commission, the Rights Commissions of Guyana and the Public Procurement Commission.

The process for approval of the Estimates of Expenditure of these Agencies continued smoothly as it had in 2022 following the December 29, 2021 Parliamentary approval of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Amendment (FMAA) Act which was successfully piloted at the time by Senior Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh during the 34th Sitting of the Twelfth Parliament. The legislation was amended from what it was previously during the tenure of the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) Administration and has since strengthened and streamlined the Budget process for these Constitutional Agencies while also preserving their independence. Amendments made to the former legislation include those that were made to ensure better accountability and set out the practice and procedure to which these Constitutional Agencies must conform in terms of the management of their subventions for the efficient discharge of their functions.            

Last week, both sides of the House participated in five days of debates on the 2023 Budget which was presented to the National Assembly on January 16 by Senior Minister in the Office of the President with Responsibility for Finance Dr.Ashni Singh.

During his presentation Dr. Singh reminded that key and critical Constitutional bodies that are part of the architecture of constitutional governance are appointed and functioning, such as the Audit Office of Guyana, the Supreme Court, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Public Service Appellate Tribunal, the Ombudsman, and the Guyana Elections Commission. He added that ‘In 2022, Constitutional agencies inclusive of the Public Procurement Commission, Police Service Commission, and most recently in January 2023, the Teaching Service Commission have been appointed. He pointed out further that ‘Notably, the consultative process with civil society organisations for nominations to the Ethnic Relations Commission and the Women and Gender Equality Commission has been completed’. He added further that the approval of the National Assembly is anticipated shortly after the budget is adopted.

Dr. Singh emphasized during his presentation as well on January 16 last that ‘the work to complete the Rights of the Child Commission and the Indigenous People’s Commission should be completed by mid-year while Issues surrounding the appointment of the long-overdue Judicial Service Commission are on public record despite efforts by His Excellency the President to bring this to conclusion in 2022. He added further then that ‘the process for concluding the nominees to the Public Service Commission is in progress at the Committee of Appointment’.

In relation to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), this year’s Budget provides for an additional sum to cater for Local Government Elections and this was explained by Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance Gail Teixeira following queries today about the additional allocation for the Constitutional body.   

During his presentation on Budget Day, Dr. Singh had also alluded to this during his 2023 Budget presentation: “…the upcoming local government elections will serve as a reminder of our Government’s commitment to good governance and transparency across every community, and will provide much needed renewal to the local government system,” he said.  

The $781.9 Billion Budget was presented under the theme “Improving Lives Today, Building Prosperity for Tomorrow’.