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APNU to punish Finance Minister over GUY$4.5 billion expenditure

Carl Greenidge

A Partnership for National Unity’s (APNU) Carl Greenidge Thursday night vowed that efforts would be made to sanction Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh for illegally spending GUY$4.5 billion on items that were not approved by the opposition-controlled House in this year’s national budget.

“We will trigger all the measures there because this is a step too far. It just seeking actually to make a mockery of the whole process of parliament,” he said.

Government has said that it has decided to spend the money based on High Court rulings and the Constitution.

Greenidge, who is the Shadow Finance Minister, said deductions could be made from Singh’s salary and he could be fined up to GUY$3 million and jailed for up to two years for flouting the laws. “There is no way as the constitution is currently written for the minister to legally simply spend money especially since it has been explicitly disapproved,” he said.

He said Singh has reduced the House to a mere useless rubber stamp in which parliamentarians spend days examining the estimates of expenditure. “If this is the case that you could simply spend and come with a Statement of Excess, then there is no point in having the parliament meet at all,” he said.

A former Finance Minister under the Peoples National Congress (PNC) administration up to 1992, Greenidge suggested strongly that the matter might be taken eventually to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) for an interpretation.

APNU and the Alliance For Change (AFC) had voted against huge chunks of the 2014 budget amounting to GUY$37 billion because expenditures for some uncontroversial areas had been included.

But the Statement of Excesses shows that billions have been spent between January and June, 2013 to finance the National Communications Network (NCN), Government Information Agency (GINA), Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS)and the Cheddi Jagan International Airport expansion project among others.