Supplementary funds were ‘needed urgently’ says Dr. Singh

The $17.4 billion Supplementary Budget approved by the National Assembly on Monday was “needed urgently” to address the wellbeing of people and deficiencies in state agencies.

This was disclosed by Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh during an interview with the DPI.

Dr. Singh explained that the funds go to the core of wellbeing of Guyanese people and capabilities of Guyanese institution to perform their functions. This includes supporting the village economy of Amerindian villages, COVID-19 relief cash grant, the rehabilitation of roads and infrastructure development of housing areas. Monies were also approved for the revival of the sugar industry, building the capacity of the Joint Services and to clear the indebtedness of public agencies to the Guyana Power and Light.

“These are initiatives, many of them are ongoing, many of them are extremely critical, as a matter of fact I would say all of them are needed urgently… The necessity for the financial paper was occasioned by discovery of the gravity of the situation we are facing and also our recognition of an aggressive implementation schedule,” Dr. Singh stated.

“Given how many things were happening at that time, I am not sure we had the most comprehensive picture. Some pieces of the picture are still being discovered as we do more audits and we do more review of agencies and so on, I would not be surprised as we probe some of these agencies more closely, we discover even more about the state of their finances,” the Minister added.

Financial Paper Number Two of 2019 totalling $4.15 billion was also approved and focused on contingency funds advances that were inappropriately drawn down by the previous administration. Dr Singh explained that the advances are required to be cleared by the National Assembly. This was delayed due to the political developments in 2019 and 2020 he said.

“It is notable to mention that all of the expenditure, totalling $4.15 billion, all of it was drawn down from the Contingency Fund during a period while the APNU+AFC Government was illegally in office,” he stated.

“In fact, then President Granger had acknowledged that his Government was a caretaker Government. So, it is highly unusual and some would go as far to say it is highly improper and legality is questionable whether a Government in caretake mode should be operating in this manner because it is clearly not a period of business as usual. They were outside their legal period of existence, so there are many who would question the legality of the recourse to the Contingency Fund,” Dr. Singh pointed out.

The funds utilised by the coalition government included both Current and Capital Estimates at approximately $223.2 million and $3.9 billion respectively and covered the period June 13, 2019 to December 3, 2019.

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