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APNU proposes $33.7B in budget cuts

scissors-budget-cutThe APNU has proposed some $33.7B in cuts from the $208.8B budget estimates put forward by the government.

Tuesday’s proposal had many overlaps with the $35.5B in cuts proposed by the AFC with the largest being the inclusion of some $19B in the estimates for the Low Carbon Development Strategy.

That is money the government expects to earn from its biodiversity partnership with Norway but the opposition parties had argued during the consideration of last year’s budget estimates that it should not be included.

Other highlights include a proposal to slash the $10.2B earmarked for the electricity sector to $5B.

The APNU also proposes to reduce a $5.35B allocation for the Cheddi Jagan International Airport Modernisation Project to one dollar, a fate similar to that put forward for the Specialty Hospital’s $1.25B allocation.

A $4.5B allocation for ICT development under the Office of the President (OP) heading has been flagged for reduction with the APNU proposing it be reduced to $2.5B.

Still under the OP heading the coalition has identified some $291.7M in cuts to the allocations for electricity charges, security and other expenditures.

And the subsidy allocations for NCN and GINA have also been flagged for reductions to $1 each with both opposition parties expressing dissatisfaction with the professionalism of the two state entities.

There is also a proposal to slash a $100M allocation for the Sports and Art Development Fund to $1 while another could see the $224M earmarked for the Board of Industrial Training reduced to $140M.

And the APNU has indicated that it is prepared to strip the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) of all but $1M of its $93.5M proposed allocation. The opposition had last year reduced the agency’s allocation to one dollar but in the subsequent court challenge the Chief Justice ruled that the agency was a constitutional body and had to be funded in order to carry out its constitutional duties.

“In order to enable that constitutional entity and its secretariat to perform its constitutional functions, the court orders the Ministry of Finance to allow all expenditures necessary from time to time for the maintenance of that entity and for the performance of its constitutional function to be charged directly from the Consolidated Fund (as mandated by the Constitution) until the National Assembly determines a lump sum by way of a subvention to meet such expenditure,” Chief Justice Ian Chang said in his 34-page judgment.

That lump sum is yet to be addressed in the Assembly.

The parties have pointed out that a proposal to cut does not mean that an allocation would be amended but is intended to give them the option to do so since notification to amend must be given at least 24 hours in advance. Both the APNU and the AFC have said that a proposed cut could be withdrawn if they were satisfied with the answers to their questions during the scrutiny of the allocations as was done on Tuesday with the allocation for drainage and irrigation under the Ministry of Agriculture.