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President summons opposition to budget-rescue talks

ramotar
Flash back: President Donald Ramotar addressing Parliament shortly after the 2011 general and regional elections.

President Donald Ramotar has summoned a meeting with the two opposition parties that together plan to use their one-seat majority to cut the 2013 budget from next Monday, according to well-placed sources.

Sources said the Guyanese leader has virtually made up his mind to call early elections if the cabinet and its advisors agree that the budget cuts would make running the country unmanageable. Ministers, on an aggressive budget exercise for several days, have in some cases been hinting at fresh elections depending on how severe the budget cuts are.

Usually reliable sources in A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) have confirmed that they have been invited to the talks Monday morning. Consideration of the estimates of expenditure is expected to begin later that same day at 2 PM.

Unlike last year’s budgetary consultations with the government, APNU would not be going alone and have insisted that the AFC be part of the talks, sources from both camps have confirmed.

The Government Information Agency (GINA), National Communications Network (NCN), Ministry of Home Affairs and the funds for contract employees of the Office of the President and several other ministries could be put on the chopping block.

GINA and NCN, according to the opposition, are government propaganda machines that shut out voices of dissent.

On the issue of the Ministry of Home Affairs, APNU appeared willing to consider allowing certain allocations to pass but the AFC has maintained that it would not vote in favour of cash headed minister Clement Rohee against whom a no-confidence motion has been passed.

The High court subsequently ruled that the National Assembly could not stop an elected member from addressing the House.

While the opposition has riled against the budget, government is depending on the private sector and sections of the labour movement that have all welcomed the package.