Over $5B approved for Foreign Affairs Ministry; Opposition questions massive increase in payments
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge defending his budgetary allocations under current and capital expenditures in the Committee of Supply of the National Assembly said the allocation for contract workers has been doubled since all the posts for foreign officers has been filled.
Minister Greenidge told the Committee of Supply today (Tuesday December 20, 2016) that an increase in allocation was necessary to cater for new ambassadors, consul generals and other diplomatic posts, along with the salary increases. The foreign service officers and their allowances were also captured in this increase, the Foreign Affairs Minister explained.
Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira who was at the time grilling the minister requested a list of all these positions along with the remuneration and other benefits, of which Minister Greenidge agreed to make available.
The Opposition MP questioned if and how the Ambassador to Kuwait is being paid. Dr. Shamir Ally, was a subject of controversy after it was exposed that he was charged in the United States for disseminating false financial information on behalf of the company which he worked for.
Minister Greenidge clarified that the Ambassador, as per norm was paid an advance, while his presentation of credentials and other requirements regarding his appointment are in the pipeline. He disclosed that the investigation surrounding the controversy is completed.
The increases in other employment costs such as rental payment, the increase in contract workers under the ministry’s Foreign Policy Promotion Programme and the purchase of new vehicles were topics of hot debate.
A call was made by Teixeira for a cost-benefit analysis to be conducted given the fact that $3B will be expended on ambassadors and other services under this ministry.
Additionally, the Opposition had many concerns relating to the allocation of $1B for payment to international organizations, which the Minister said represents payments for arrears and other negotiations with these international bodies.
A total of $5.164B was approved in the Committee of Supply for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.