Internet Radio

Supporters of financial sanctions are “unpatriotic”- Finance Minister

Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh addressing the commissioning of GuyOil’s Regent Street branch.

Guyana’s Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh on Sunday labeled those who support the European Union’s (EU) financial sanctions on the country “unpatriotic” and he called on Guyanese across the political divide to put national interests first.

“This worries me because irrespective of which side of the National Assembly you sit on, you have an obligation to assure that jobs are created for the people you represent,” he said.

“Scaring away investors or creating an environment that is not conducive to investment or commending international agencies when they withhold funds the country has earned legitimately and properly are unpatriotic acts, they are not acts that serve the interest of any Guyanese,” he said. Shadow Finance Minister in the last Parliament, Carl Greenidge had warned government on November 10, 2014- the same day that Parliament was prorogued- that should the opposition win the upcoming elections it would not honour any investment deals made by the Donald Ramotar administration during the period of suspension.

Singh’s comment came against the background of the EU announcing last weekend that it has withheld 25.8 million Euros because Guyana has not satisfied the criteria including lack of oversight.

Addressing the formal opening of the Guyana Oil Company’s (GuyOil) branch at Regent and Wellington Streets, the Finance Minister chided sections of the opposition and other anti-government critics for backing the EU’s decision. “An investment in Guyana doesn’t redound to the benefit of one political party or another,” he said, adding that it generates jobs, incomes and services to all Guyanese,” he said.

The EU’s decision came days after British High Commissioner Andrew Ayre said that his country would be reluctant to allocate taxpayers’ money to a country where there was a lack of parliamentary oversight. Britain is an EU member.

The Guyana government has since released correspondence, showing that since September 2014 the EU’s Mission in Guyana had recommended to its headquarters in Brussels that the grant aid be released, subject to the approval of its Budget Steering Committee.

Accompanying the release of that correspondence was a call by the Guyana government on the EU Mission to state what the real reason for withholding the aid is.

The EU said that it has two on-going budget support programmes in Guyana, one for the sugar sector (EURO 28.9 million) and one for sea defences (EURO 14.8 million). The EU said that it has a long standing commitment to support development and poverty reduction in Guyana. The mission noted that in 2014, EURO 34 million was allocated to Guyana under the 11th European Development Fund. EU aid is channelled through different modalities. Budget support is one of them.