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Number of ministers will be reduced; Vice Presidents won’t drain treasury- Opposition coalition

Guyana’s opposition coalition wants to cut the number of ministers to 16 or 18 and appoint three Vice Presidents that they say will not be a drain on the national treasury.

Reacting to claims by the incumbent People’s Progressive Party (PPP) that the coalition’s plan to appoint three Vice Presidents would be a strain on the public purse, the coalition said Guyana’s constitution provides for those appointments but not the amount of salaries.

The coalition explained that the Vice Presidents would be paid as senior ministers. “The PPP administration is known for paying super salaries to ex-ministers, so-called advisors and political cronies. An APNU+AFC government will actually reduce the number of ministers and ensure Vice Presidents are paid as senior ministers as is the present case.  The mere appointment of Vice Presidents does not mean a strain on tax payers,” the coalition said in a statement.

Alliance For Change (AFC) Leader, Khemraj Ramjattan told Demerara Waves Online News that the coalition has agreed to form a 16 or 18 member cabinet with two of the Vice Presidents coming from his party and the other from A Partnership for National Unity (APNU).

“It will be less than what we have and we will make an assessment when we go in and that will be determined by the President largely and the Prime Minister,” he said. At the same time, the coalition does not rule out having junior ministers. “There again, the necessity of the circumstances could dictate that that be had and that is why we left both the president and prime minister to make an assessment of that,” said Ramjattan.

The Donald Ramotar administration caters for 20 ministers including the Prime Minister and four junior ministers, one of whom has resigned from the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development.

There are also two former ministers- Harripersaud Nokta and Clinton Collymore- who have been employed as ministerial advisors at the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development.

The Alliance For Change (AFC) has been already guaranteed the ministries of agriculture, home affairs, tourism and public works. Overall, the number of ministers would be divided on a 60-40 formula in favour of APNU.

If the APNU-AFC coalition wins the May 11, 2015 general and regional elections, the AFC Leader said the number of ministerial advisors would be cut as far as practicable. “That’s what we are trying to avoid so as to not make it bureaucratic or bloated,” he said.