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Opposition protests cut in budgets for several constitutional agencies

PPPC Shadow Finance Minister, Juan Edghill

PPPC Shadow Finance Minister, Juan Edghill

The opposition People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) was Monday up in arms over apparent reduction in funding to several constitutional agencies, charging that David Granger-led administration was stifling scrutiny of its policies, programmes and decisions.

“The APNU+AFC (A Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance For Change) is seeking to avoid scrutiny and the way that they are doing is by emasculating them and short changing these constitutional bodies,” said the PPPC’s Juan Edghill.

Opposition Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira said the GYD$11.2 billion that have been allocated to agencies like the Auditor General’s Office, Indigenous People’s Commission, Director of Public Prosecutions, Supreme Court and the Guyana Elections Commission represents a total cut by GYD$7 billion.

“This is a clear case of abuse of the letter and spirit of the constitution,” she said.  Edghill said the Finance Minister must explain the cut to the Auditor General’s Chambers which recently came under harsh criticism for certain observations about the way government spent funds in 2015.

The party says the Indigenous People’s Commission’s budget has been cut from GYD$32 million to GYD$24 million,  the Auditor General’s Office’s budget has been reduced by GYD$30 million, and GECOM from GYD$5 billion to GYD$2 billion.

The party also questioned how the Finance Minister arrived at a budget of  GD$76 million for the soon to be established Public Procurement Commission although the commissioners are yet to meet with the Public Accounts Committee to discuss their needs.

The party is concerned that government appears to have cut funding to those agencies to stymie their work at a time, for instance, when the Elections Commission is preparing to hold a fresh round of house-to-house registration for the first time in 10 years; the Indigenous People’s Commission requires personnel to travel to Georgetown regularly, and there is need for the Director of Public Prosecutions and the High Court to help clear the backlog of cases.

Meanwhile, the PPPC is concerned that government is taking steps to table the 2017 National Budget on the grounds that it would not take into consideration the closure of accounts for monies that would have been already spent. The PPP is also worried that the early presentation of next year’s budget may allow government to spend remaining funds through sole-sourcing.