Grandstanding attempt to gain political mileage – Min. Greenidge
─ Game played by the Opposition by not respecting the law which states that Constitutional Agencies be given lumps sums
DPI, Guyana, Monday, November 19, 2018th
The 99th sitting of the National Assembly began today, however, in just over an hour of the sitting it was suspended by the Speaker of the House, Dr. Barton Scotland. This came after an objection by the Opposition.
Speaking to the Department of Public Information (DPI), Minister Greenidge explained that the move by the Opposition was another attempt to debate the issue of MPs receiving separate budget estimates, as prepared by each constitutional agency. He said that the Speaker moved to have an enlarged committee discuss the issue, but to no avail after lengthy discussions.
A commitment was made to have soft copies (electronic) copies available immediately and hard copies available to any of the approximately 30 MPs, as requested. It was explained that given the volume of documents to be printed, it would not be possible to have all completed. The other side of the House, the minister added, then proposed that they be granted a few days to peruse the hard copies. The rules state that only a lump sum allocated to the Constitutional Agencies could be debated not individual allocations such as salaries etc. Minister Greenidge made it clear that oftentimes, budgetary allocations for the aforementioned agencies are increased over the previous years.
The minister stated that the government is not opposed to the Opposition, being given documents concerning budgetary allocations once they are within the context of the amended to the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act. The issue will be brought before the plenary and eventually put to a vote and, with the numbers on the government’s side, the latter will prevail the minister further explained:
“So what should have been completed by 5pm will now take us some time into the night. That is what makes some MPs happy. They get an opportunity to stand in front of the cameras, for longer than they otherwise would. It makes absolutely no difference as to whether the amount allocated by the Minister of Finance is changed because they are not in a position to change it.”
Minister Greenidge reminded that it was the government when in Opposition, that forced the Ramotar Administration and the then finance minister to expose to the House, the request by Constitutional Agencies and required that the PPP administration provide information and scope for discussion. He reiterated that both sides of the House agreed that budget allocations for Constitutional Agencies should not be politicized by having the “rough and tumble over line items that apply to other agencies.” Oversight is given by the Auditor General, Public Accounts Committee and the Finance Ministry to ensure that spending is done, in accordance with approved rules and they account for the money spent.
Paul Mc Adam
Image: Jameel Mohamed