Budget cuts for Indigenous Peoples and Child Rights Commissions

Last Updated on Thursday, 7 January 2016, 23:53 by Denis Chabrol

The Guyana government Thursday slashed huge chunks of monies from the proposed budgets of the Rights of the Child Commission and the Indigenous Peoples Commission for 2016.

The ROC asked government for GYD$84 million but in the end only ended up with GYD$31 million, prompting opposition Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) MP, Gillian Burton-Persaud to observe that the reduction has come at a time when children make up one of  the most “vulnerable and violated” groups.

Junior Public Infrastructure Minister, Annette Ferguson noted that the previous government had allocated GYD$26.3 million.  Reacting, former Minister of Education in the PPPC government, Priya Manickchand said the question of how much her government had allocated to the ROC was unnecessary. “This common question cannot be asked because this is the government that campaigned and said they would do it differently from the PPP and we did not have this law that you said would make them independent of the Commission. Stop making vacuous arguments!,” she said.

Responding to Manickchand’s question about whether the GYD$31 million would be sufficient to fund the ROC’s five year plan, Finance Minister Winston Jordan said the Treasury could not afford more at this time.

“I believe this amount can be start of the very five year plan and as we progress into our five year term more can be made available when is more available,” he said.

Funding for the Indigenous Peoples Commission (IPC) for 2016 was cut from the proposed GYD$66 million to GYD$23 million, despite several calls by the opposition to ensure that tha rights commission is properly funded.

The People’s Progressive Party Civic’s (PPP) parliamentarians including Alex Charlie, Yvonne Pearson,  Gail Teixeira and Nigel Dharamlall urged the coalition government not to cut the budget.

“The IPC has a mandate to investigate and treat with the rights of Amerindians,” said Dharamlall, a former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of the Amerindian Affairs.

PPPC back-bencher, Charles Ramson Jr. observed that government has allocated a sum of money to the IPC that is the same for the capital expenditure for the Prime Minister’s vehicle.

Teixeira queried whether the slash in financing for that rights commission was “part time with respect to Indigenous people in this country.”

No one from the  government side spoke on this request. While the amount was being put to the Committee of Supply,  Junior Minister of Indigenous Affairs, Valerie Garrido-Lowe was seen making unsuccessful attempts to gain the Speaker’s attention to seek permission to speak.