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…says majority of individual requests cannot be justified
By Lisa Hamilton
The APNU+AFC Opposition is going head-to-head with the Government today [Monday] in the National Assembly contesting the request of $17.4B by the current Administration as supplementary budgetary allocation some three days before the end of the financial year. The Opposition contests that it is impossible for the Government to expend the sum in just three days; that the sum still does not cater to bonuses for public servants; and that is a means to make up for previous reckless spending.
In a media conference before theSitting, which is underway Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon pointed out that the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act (FMAA), Section 41 states that such requests must satisfy the criteria as being an “urgent unavoidable and unforeseen need for expenditure” which “cannot be deferred without injury to the public interest.” However, from the APNU+AFC’s standpoint, the majority of the reasons given in request of the supplementary funding are unjustifiable. Harmon said that the Opposition is prepared to thoroughly interrogate the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government in the National Assembly on this “blatant attempt at squandermania”.
“There is no issue, as far as we can see for which supplementary funding is being sought that meets these criteria. One would expect that if there was need for additional funds then a sum which would cater for a bonus to be paid to the public servants in December would have been added there but there’s nothing like that. No consideration whatsoever,” the Opposition Leader said.
Among the three Financial Papers submitted was Financial Paper No.2 of 2020 which requested $17.4B in supplementary sums. It includes sums for electricity charges; the Amerindian Development Fund; subsidies and contributions to local organisations and GUYSUCO; roads and drainage; old-age pension and social assistance; infrastructural development and buildings; and air, land and water transport for the Guyana Defence Force (GDF).
The two other Financial Papers submitted were Financial Paper No.2 of 2019 requesting $4.1B and Paper No.1 of 2020 requesting $792M, sums which have already been spent for which approval is being sought. Speaking to the latter, Harmon said that the PPP/C regime praised itself for completing Budget 2020 speedily and thoroughly but less than a month after the Government has “ran out of money”.
Harmon was questioned by the media about the Opposition’s justification that “squandermania” is at play, considering the importance of flood relief through proper drainage as outlined in Financial Paper No.1 of 2020 or national defence through the provision of resources to the GDF, outlined in Financial Paper No.2 of 2020. In turn, he rebutted that significant sums were injected into repairing agricultural dams at Dantzig under the APNU+AFC and, if additional funds were needed under the new Administration, this ought to have been included in Budget 2020. Furthermore, he said that while some of the requests can likely be justified, the majority cannot.
“You could have seen during the course of December how they were spending money like drunken sailors all across this country. So, what they’re trying to do now is to come to get Parliamentary approval for this wanton waste and disregard for the FMAA and the provisions of that Act,” Harmon said.
“Each of these line items will have to satisfy that criteria. I would say that there may be one or two but the Minister has to be satisfied that all of them reach that requirement. During the course of today, we will interrogate each item to determine for the Guyanese people whether these items that are seeking funding for now that they could not wait on a budget which is just a few weeks away.”