Supplementary funding available if GECOM 2018 Budget runs dry – Jordan
Amid concerns about the reduced funds allotted for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) in 2018, Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan explained that the entity can always seek supplementary provisions if the resources run dry.
GECOM requested some $3.7B but only received $2.9B – a difference of about $815M.
Opposition Member of Parliament (MP), Gail Teixeira during the consideration of the budget proposals for constitutional agencies on Friday, questioned the reason for the slashing of the budget when there are preparatory works that need to be conducted for Local Government Elections (LGE) in December 2018.
But the Finance Minister maintained that the allotted figures take into account the economic outlook of 2018 for revenue but posited that if the entity does fall short of resources, it can always “come to the house for those resources.”
But Teixeira, not satisfied with the response, ventured into explaining that GECOM will have to prepare voters lists and ballots, and commence the process of continuous registration but she was interrupted by House Speaker, Dr Barton Scotland who urged her to stop the preamble and ask her question.
Annoyed with the Speaker’s interruption, the Opposition Chief Whip charged at him to stop pressuring her and instead called on the Finance Minister to be accountable.
“Put the pressure on him to be accountable … the Elections Commission is the life of this country … you asking me to ask a question? Ask him to be accountable!” Teixeira declared in her outburst. Nonetheless, the proposed budget for the constitutional agency for the year 2018 was passed by the government majority.
Meanwhile, the Opposition’s questioning of the slashing of the budgets for the other constitutional agencies proved futile as the Minister of Finance provided generic answers and declined to offer specific reasons for his decisions.
The reason advanced was that: “The recommended allocation takes into account the economic outlook for 2018 for revenue, expenditure and growth in the economy, challenges in implementation encountered in 2017 and annualisation of salaries. Please note Budget 2018 submission did not fulfil the requirements of the 2018 Budget Circular, paragraph 4.4. I.e. no procurement plan was submitted for Budget 2018.”
Despite this reasoning for all of the constitutional agencies, a few entities received the full sum they requested.
When this was pointed out several opposition parliamentarians, Jordan contended that the decision lies in the “discretionary powers” of the Minister.
After a few hours of questioning, the $8M budget for constitutional agencies was approved and passed without support from the parliamentary opposition.