DPI gets $310M subsidy; lone contracted artist is AFC Executive

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The Department of Public Information (DPI), which this year is expected to spend $250 million, does not have a Graphic Artist on staff but instead contracts one.  

This was revealed by Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo during Monday’s consideration of budget estimates under his office.

He revealed that the graphic artist – known to be Michael Leonard, an executive of the Alliance for Change (AFC) – receives $90,000 each for seven newspapers he works on at DPI.

Leonard’s wife, Ernestine, is the Editor-in-Chief and acting Deputy Director of the DPI.

Both Mr and Mrs Leonard sat behind the Prime Minister as the estimates for his office were being considered.

The Prime Minister, in response to a question posed by the Opposition, said he was not aware that the Graphic Artist was married to the Deputy Director.

However, he said the imputation that one cannot work for the same entity and be related was “malicious.”

Mr Leonard is also an Executive Director at NCN – the State Television.  

The newspapers he is contracted to serve as Graphic Artist for at DPI are: Westside Diary, Essequibo Express, Bartica Buzz, Berbice Bulletin, Linden Ledger, Rupununi Round Up and Hinterland Highlights.

Hinterland Highlights is produced every month while the other six are produced every other month.

DPI’s 2019 budget for 2019 is $310 million.

Meanwhile, NCN’s subsidy for 2019 is $187 million, up from $145.9 million which is expected to be exhausted by the end of the year.

Both NCN and DPI received their subsidies under the Prime Minister’s office, for which a total sum of $908 million was approved on Monday.

Of the expenses, DPI reported the Prime Minister as saying just over $3 million will be used to fund the email domain for the Prime Minister’s Secretariat as well as host and maintain the Secretariat’s website, which will be launched in 2019.

He is also quoted as saying new and ongoing training programmes for radio broadcasters are also budgeted in the Secretariat’s funds.

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