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Finance Minister denies refusing to answer opposition questions on budget

Finance Minister Winston Jordan

The Finance Minister has denied dodging budgetary questions during scrutiny of the 2015 estimates as is being touted by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP).

The opposition is bitter over the fact that scrutiny of the estimates was reduced to three days and claimed that the Finance Minister himself was “arrogant” and not forthcoming with information.

During a press conference a day earlier, the PPP slammed the government about extravagance and disrespect, saying that the opposition was promised information that was never provided and that government members were clowning about providing information after the scrutiny process.

Jordan, speaking for himself, said that he did not refuse questions, but those he did not answer were “out-of-order.” He said, too, that he was very disappointed by the number and type of questions posed by the opposition.

He said while the opposition has claimed the government’s fear or Jagdeo, “Not once did he get up to ask me a question.”

Jordan continued that the Opposition Leader had every opportunity him questions, but didn’t. Jordan explained that some of the questions posed were not within Parliament’s Standing Orders. “I did not refuse to answer any of their questions; I refused to answer questions that were not within the Standing Orders.”

Many persons do not know what the Standing Orders entail, he said. He said that regulation proposes that one cannot ask a questions- among other things- for which a line item has a zero. “You cannot ask me about what you think I should have done. You can only ask me what is in front of you in the budget.”

He said all the questions that were posed seemed design to “embarrass somebody in the Ministry or some other place or some agenda which any analyst would easily detect where the questions were going.” “So if we are bringing back good governance and so on, we must stay within the law.”

“And I was disappointed, to say the least, at the small number of questions asked, the quality of the questions; they were just rudimentary questions.”

He said Jagdeo used his colleagues to ask a few questions noting that that was done mostly by former Junior Finance Minister Juan Edgill and former Housing Minister Irfaan Ali.

According to Jordan, “I would think the Minister of Finance who prepared the budget would have been there for the next two or three hours being grilled… a mere five or six repetitive questions …” he claimed was asked.