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APNU wants greater education focus in 2014 budget

APNU Chairman David Granger

The APNU says it will be calling for greater emphasis on the education sector in its submissions for the 2014 budget talks with government even as it remains pessimistic about the likely outcome of the engagement.

This was relayed by APNU Chairman David Granger at a news conference on Friday.

Granger said a lot of the unmet demands from the previous years would be repeated but education would get more focus because of “breakdown” across the sector and poor management of the substantial resources allocated to it.

“We’re concerned about the funding for the University of Guyana. Second we’re concerned about the state of the primary schools and the results which are evident in the National Grade Six Examinations.

Third, we’re concerned about the Cyril Potter College of Education, we feel that the rejection of a large number of candidates for the Associate Degree in Education points to a breakdown of education within that college,” he said.

Granger added that they would also be calling for greater expenditure on schools’ infrastructure. Education received a GUY$28.7B allocation this year, the largest in the budget.

APNU’s call in the past has included the completion of the tax system reforms, the restoration of the financial viability of the NIS, providing for the socially vulnerable and a major thrust to raise employment levels in depressed communities and among the young.

But Granger on Friday said he was not optimistic the government would be more receptive to their suggestions this time and he cited the failure to set up a tripartite budget committee they had called for since 2011 as the primary reason for his belief.

 “I do believe that if we do not get a favourable response to the requests that we make there will be another collision next year when we come to the budget but we’re quite prepared for that,” he stated.

Differences between the government and the combined opposition saw the latter using its parliamentary majority to slash GUY$20.9B from the GUY$192.8B budget estimates put forward by the government last year. This year saw a similar result with some GUY$31.35B being cut from the GUY$208.8B proposal.

The government has moved to involve the parliamentary opposition parties earlier in the budget process this year though the AFC this week pointed out that work had started since July 1. Granger said the APNU sent a memorandum to the Minister of Finance regarding the talks but he was reluctant to divulge any detail about it.

He said the APNU’s Shadow Cabinet was scheduled to meet next week and following that a statement with their recommendations would be forwarded to the minister.