Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 December 2016, 14:56 by Derwayne Wills
Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira has asked Foreign Minister Carl Greenidge to justify a $200M increase in the amount allocated for contract employees under the Foreign Policy Promotions for the Foreign Ministry’s 2017 budget.
The increases, according to Minister Greenidge in the Supply Committee of the National Assembly, “reflects almost all the new postings in terms of Principal Foreign Officers and Ambassadors [as well as] employment of new ambassadors in London, Ottawa, Havan, New York, Brussels, Naicary.”
Greenidge said there are new officers who are also drawing their allowances including medical, gratuity, NIS and salary increases for 2016.
Opposition Chief Whip Teixeira called on the Minister to release a listing of all posts filled with Ambassadors, High Commissioners, and Charge d’affaires and deputies, as well as Consul Generals. Teixeira also asked for a list to be provided of the emoluments, salaries, and benefits of these posts.
Responding to a question of the length of the contracts for these officers, Minister Greenidge said those contracts vary between one and three years depending on negotiations with the Ambassadors.
Turning her attention to Guyana’s Ambassador-designate to Kuwait, Shamir Ally, whose appointment was well-examined in the public, Teixeira questioned whether the Ambassador was being paid while being under investigation.
Ally’s appointment had been stalled by an investigation here into his legal troubles with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. There was some concern in the public that ally was not vetted effectively before being tapped for the high-profile position in the Middle East.
Greenidge responded saying Ally has not been accredited and has not been paid but is living on an allowance provided to him, as is customary, to settle down in his country of mission.
“This is taking a length of time,” Opposition Chief Whip responded.
As it relates to Guyana’s mission in Geneva, Switzerland, the Opposition Chief Whip questioned whether government has policy to ensure Guyana would not exceeding its financial obligations to support living and other arrangements for Ambassadors.
“Policy of the Ministry is not one that allows Ambassadors or Ambassador-designates to arrive and rent a building,” Greenidge said, adding that, there are officers within the respective countries tasked with assessing and reviewing rental arrangements to determine an appropriate one.
Teixeira questioned further the benefit of diplomatic missions in Geneva, Brussels, Trinidad, and Kuwait and called for the Minister to lay before the House the benefits of such missions.
Greenidge responded noting while Geneva is expensive, the Swiss government has agreed to help with Guyana’s cost for rental space as well as residence assistance. “We are not paying full economic cost for the office or the residence,” the Minister said.
Justifying a mission in the Geneva, one of Europe’s more expensive cities, Minister Greenidge said not only does this assist Guyana’s relationship with Switzerland, it also allows for engagement with the World Trade Organisation which is integral for the administration’s economic diplomacy push.