Speaker of the National Assembly Raphael Trotman says he plans to listen to both sides of the House on the issue of budget cuts when consideration of the estimates begins on Monday.
The combined opposition parties have indicated that they will be seeking cuts with the AFC already outlining more than $38B that it would be looking to pare from $208.8B estimates.
The parties are adamant in their position that they could do so despite a preliminary decision by acting Chief Justice Ian Chang on the challenge of last year’s budget cuts in which he stated that they could only approve or disapprove the budget in its entirety, not amend.
“After all I have seen and heard over the past few days about budget cuts and the power to cut or not cut, it seems more than likely now that I will be called on to make a decision or ruling that is expected to support one side over another. I intend to hear all sides equally before making any decision,” the Speaker said in a statement to Demerara Waves Sunday.
He added that in such a case, a Speaker’s ruling may go either way.
“Something for everyone is better than everything for just one side. In these circumstances I am happy that talks are being convened as compromise and cooperation are infinitely much better than a bloody encounter on the floor of the House,” Trotman stated.
According to the Speaker, he is confident that the Guyanese people will get a budget they deserve. The opposition parties have argued their position on the grounds that the parliament is meant to provide oversight for the public’s purse and to be reduced to a mere yea or nay on the budget passage undermines that role.
Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh is reported by GINA as saying on a recent television programme that the proposed cuts defy logic and have no merit for the good intentions towards the future of Guyana in addition to being in defiance of Chang’s ruling.
“They are holding the budget hostage to sell their political agenda,” he reportedly said.