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Govt justifies cutting time for scrutinizing 2015 budget estimates

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo’s budget documents that he intends to use during the 2015 Budget Debate. Some of the documents date back to 1992.

Prime Minister Moses Nagamoootoo Thursday afternoon said three instead of seven days have been set aside to allow the opposition to scrutinize allocations in the 2015 National Budget because the fiscal package caters merely for the remaining four months of the year.

“Our position is that estimates as they are reflected eighty percent of monies which the former government was responsible for so they wouldn’t be interested in scrutinizing an eighty percent that they were responsible for and there is only the four-month budget estimate that we have- a very truncated four months,” he told Demerara Waves.

Nagamootoo denied that the aim to reduce the number of days was to muzzle the PPP and Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo from questioning how the GUY$221 billion would be spent. He explained that the National Assembly was already pressed to reduce the recess from two months to one month and so government had to plan carefully how to use the parliamentary time.

Earlier, Government Chief Whip Amna Ally said “I can’t tell you that,” when asked why the reduction in the number of days.

Jagdeo told reporters Thursday afternoon that slashing the time for consideration of the estimates was a “travesty” and that government was afraid of “greater scrutiny” at a time government was preaching transparency, good governance and inclusivity.  “This is a bigger budget than the actual 2014 budget. It also several new features in that several ministries were reorganized so the line-items would have changed and so if anything I thought they would have given us more time than less time to consider the estimates,” he said.

“This is part of a pattern to muzzle not to get our views to the public. They are afraid that several elements of the budget are inconsistent with progress, that those elements be exposed here in this House,” he said.

The Opposition Leader criticized government for limiting his budget debate argument to 45 minutes. “If I can’t speak in the Chamber, I would speak outside of the Chamber,” he said.