Ministry of Finance responds to Guyana Times’ claim  Govt appropriated ‘money budgeted to service debts for mysterious purposes.’

The Ministry of Finance notes an inaccurate and disingenuous Guyana Times article “Govt appropriates money budgeted to service debt for mysterious purposes,” July 7th, 2020 and wishes to make the following clear:

  1. There are two categories of public expenditure: appropriated expenditure and statutory expenditure. Appropriated expenditure requires approval by Parliament and must be embodied in an Act. Statutory expenditure, such as debt service payments, is a direct charge on the Consolidated Fund, and does not require Parliamentary approval
  2. Nothing in the 2019 End-of-Year Outcome Report could have reasonably led to the confusion and conclusion that the savings from lower external debt service payments in 2019, relative to projections, were appropriated or moved to other items of government expenditure. Indeed, there was nothing in the body of Guyana Times’ own article inferring that these funds were appropriated to another cause, whether known or unknown. In fact, the headline itself is incongruent with the content of the article. The Ministry is, therefore, at a loss to ascertain the authority on which the Guyana Times drew the conclusion articulated in the headline in question.

It is customary for projections to be made for debt service payments to the Non-Paris Club creditors in arrears, in case Guyana is able to successfully negotiate, finalise and sign debt settlement agreements with these creditors. As noted in the Report, this was accomplished in the case of Kuwait. This practice is in line with sound financial management. Obviously, therefore, a saving would result on the external side, if no debt settlement arrangements are finalised with these creditors in the budget year. This saving, from statutory expenditure, cannot simply be reallocated to other non-statutory (appropriation) uses without Parliamentary approval. Hence, the Guyana Times headline is patently false.

We implore media houses to hold themselves to higher standards of reporting, and not to sacrifice journalistic integrity at the altar of political expediency and sensationalism. As always, the Ministry of Finance stands ready to assist media houses in better understanding the concepts, analysis and implications inherent in our publications, so that they would be better able to provide factually accurate and edifying content to their readership.

However, the Ministry strongly denounces instances whereby reported facts are deliberately distorted to advance narrow agendas and narratives. Such unethical practices only serve to cause unnecessary disquiet among the general public, and attenuate national standards of journalism. We therefore encourage all relevant stakeholders to prioritise principle and accuracy over narrow partisan interests. Your readers deserve better!

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