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Jagdeo threatens ‘major actions’ if prevented from scrutinizing budget spending

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Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo has threatened to launch “major expressions of disapproval” in the National Assembly on November 17, 2017 if the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) does not get their way in fully questioning the government parliamentarians on the spending of some $10B allotted for constitutional agencies.

“If the Speaker and the government side try to truncate us raising these legitimate concerns of people across Guyana and try to shield the Minister(s) from giving explanations (for) acting contrary to legislation that they themselves passed, then you’re going to see major expressions of disapproval from our side and I hope that they won’t say that we are vulgar again because we try to represent people,” Jagdeo told reporters during a news conference on Tuesday.

Jagdeo stressed that the PPP/C MPs are in “no mood” to be controlled in a narrow framework where the government will hide behind parliamentary rules to avoid an open debate on these issues.

Only a few days ago, the PPP/C parliamentarians chanted songs of disapproval and waved placards during President David Granger’s address to the Parliament.

They were voicing their disapproval of the unilateral appointment of Justice James Patterson as the new GECOM Chairman and were described by the President as “vulgarians” for doing so.

When asked pointedly if the PPP/C plans on protesting again, Jagdeo simply stated: “come to parliament and you’ll see”.

The Opposition Leader, during the news conference hosted at his Church Street Office, expressed concerns over the limited time allowed to review the budgets of constitutional agencies.

“Somehow in the head of the Minister [of Finance], he believes that this part of the budget should not be debated fully and that Members of Parliament (MPs) must confine themselves within narrow timeframes,” he stated.

Jagdeo contended that an entire budget agency may only be given 30-minutes for debate.

“We believe that the $10B that is proposed for constitutional agencies … should have or go through a full debate,” he emphasised.

He also expressed concerns about the slashing of the budgets of these entities given that the coalition administration had hurriedly passed legislation to allow the agencies to have financial autonomy.

“We’ve noticed that the Minister of Finance has cut almost all of the constitutional agencies, so what’s new? Nothing is new from the old system … I thought the whole purpose of the constitutional amendment was to give them financial autonomy so that their budgets would be ring-fenced and that the Minister of Finance cannot cut these budgets any longer,” he explained.

Jagdeo said he plans to aggressively challenge the slashing of the budgets because he believes the entity’s full requests can be granted if the government addresses issues of corruption and overspending.

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