Gov’t questions efficiency as House clears $4.1B spent by APNU+AFC in 2019
The National Assembly on Monday cleared a $4.1B advance drawn from the Consolidated Fund between June and December in 2019 but not before the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) government questioned the efficiency of the “emergency spending”.
The advances were drawn from the Consolidated Fund by then APNU+AFC Coalition government but were never cleared because of an absence of Parliament.
Senior Minister within the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance Dr. Ashni Singh told the National Assembly that Financial Paper was now before the House because the law requires the advances to be cleared subsequently.
The spending attracted criticisms by the government as questions were raised over the efficiency of the emergency spending.
The funds included $179.3 million to facilitate emergency works in Regions 2, 4, 5, and 6 to reduce flooding.
Additionally, $40 million was spent to conduct repairs to two generators for the Port Kaituma Power and Light Incorporation.
Under this line item, Minister of Public Works Juan Edghill told the House that when the PPP/C government took office in August 2020, all generators were behind schedule for maintenance and repairs by three years.
He said the community of Port Kaituma was not in receipt of regular and uninterrupted power supply. Edghill said the former Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson must give some explanations for how the money was spent.
Some $1.7B was spent to facilitate emergency works on seas defence along the East Coast of Demerara. Again, Edghill questioned the effectiveness of the funds expended while pointing out that flooding still persisted when the government changed. Edghill said there was no breach that demanded emergency works to the extent for which monies were withdrawn
The Minister explained that the PPP/C government took government inherited a breach of 500 meters and made interventions in the same Fairfield and Dantzig area. Patterson in response said large parcels of rice lands were under threat due to saltwater intrusion along with the livestock of hundreds of families in the areas.
Another $2.17 billion was withdrawn to facilitate immediate funding to the Central Housing and Planning Authority for land transferred by the National Industrial and Commercial Investment Limited (NICIL).
Asked by Minister of Governance Gail Teixeira for details on the transfer between NICIL and CH&PA, Minister of Housing Colin Croal told the National Assembly that the transfer of many of the lands is still incomplete.
In addition, $13 million was used to conduct a vaccination mop-up campaign due to low vaccination coverage but Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony said while it was geared to increase the rate of vaccination in several regions, he could not see why the withdrawal was necessary since monies were already set aside in the national budget for vaccination.
In addition, $30 million used to purchase additional fuel and lubricants for the Manarabisi and Black Bush Polder pump stations to facilitate irrigation of farmlands was also cleared.