Jordan clarifies erroneous media reports; engages media on budget issues
Several concerns have been raised by the Ministry of Finance on the reportage of budget-related issues hence a training session was held today for members of the media ahead of the presentation of the 2017 National Budget.
During the half- day session facilitated by Director of the Office of the Budget at the Ministry, Sonya Roopnauth, the critical role of the media in disseminating credible information was highlighted. She noted that it is important for persons to understand economics and different projects being budgeted for.
Finance Minister, Winston Jordan who also addressed the media, explained that previous reports in relation to budget spending for the year 2016 were inaccurate; attributing to articles appearing in the press in August of this year suggesting that less than 50% of 2016 National Budget was spent.
Finance Minister, Winston Jordan
The 2016 National Budget was presented on January 29 this year, to a tune of $230B.
However, the Minister today explained that what he meant was that 50% of the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP) was unused and not the overall budget.
“When I check the papers this big bold headline government spends less than 50 percent of the budget you see the massive difference now PSIP is a sub component of an entire budget and our PSIP for this year accounts for less than 20 percent of the entire budget so when you go there and say government spends less than 50% of the budget as opposed to less than 50% of the PSIP, you see the consternation” the Minister said.
It is the government’s hope that the training will aid the promotion of more transparency and accountability.
Meanwhile, executive member of the Guyana Press Association, Denis Chabrol urged that the sessions be provided more often. He is of the view that this will avoid conflicts between the media which is the fourth estate and the government.
“I know that there is always that concern about our capacity, our ability to grasp certain issues generally; not only finance but it is one of the issues that I think we need to address collectively.” He noted that the “whole question of specialization; having people focused on beats rather than general reporters, covering everything and anything all through the day” needs to be addressed by media entities” Mr. Chabrol said.
The 2017 national budget is set to be tabled in the National Assembly on December 05, 2016.