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AFC walks out of budget presentation sitting

The Alliance For Change on Monday walked out of the National Assembly ahead of the reading of the 2014 budget by finance minister Dr. Ashni Singh.

The party in a statement it issued to the media said that the walkout was in protest of the government’s failure to hold “meaningful consultation” with the opposition parties as provided for by the Constitution.

“Judged  from the raves and rants of his previous speeches the AFC has no reason to believe that Minister Singh would make a sober presentation this year,” it said.

The party concluded that it thought it best not to “dignify” the speech with its presence. 

APNU Chairman David Granger had earlier told Demerara Waves Online News that they expected “the worst” from this year’s budget since there had been no consultation with the opposition poarties.

The AFC’s full statement is reproduced below.

The Alliance For Change (AFC) absented itself from the reading of the 2014 Budget by Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh to register its protest against the violation of our Constitution by this government in not holding meaningful consultation on the budget, whilst it had the time to do so.

Article 13 of the Guyana Constitution provides that the principal objective of the political system of the State is to establish an inclusionary democracy.  In this regard, government-opposition consultation is not only useful political behavior but promotes the type of democracy that Guyana needs..

Unfortunately, in keeping with its misguided winner takes all posture this government tries to reduce the role of the majority opposition from an active participant in national decision-making to one of a passive listener,

Judged from the rave and rants of his previous speeches, the AFC has no reason to believe that Minister Singh would make a sober presentation this year. High on a propaganda blitz against the opposition, he would not resist the blame-game, and the sojourn into the past, to buttress evident failures.

More importantly, the Capital Estimates would be padded to include high profile, pet projects for which multi-billion contracts would be “approved” by Cabinet under the “no objection” status quo, in anticipation of the establishment of the Public Procurement Commission.

The Alliance for Change (AFC) thought it best therefore to not dignify the speech with our presence in the National Assembly.  This budget is being presented by a Minister who is accused with disobeying the decisions of the National Assembly and, in disregard of those decisions, restored funds that were not approved by the said assembly, for which acts he has been placed before the Privileges Committee of the National Assembly.

For us, as a patriotic and national movement, we have a vested interest to  support increased allocations for the social sectors including education, health, housing, water, environment, and security. AFC will demand more dollars for wages, pensions and social assistance. We support subventions to organizations that promote assistance to the vulnerable in the society.

However, this 2014 budget is overshadowed by the ruling of the Chief Justice that the National Assembly may approve or not approve the estimates of expenditure. this ruling, has since been appealed. , AFC states that whilst we respect the ruling of our Courts, we reserve our right to abide with the people’s mandate to guard the national purse, and to fight squandermania, waste and corruption by whatever means available to us under the Standing Orders of the National Assembly, in the Committee of Supply.