Gov’t, Opposition differ on consultation for budget 2021
The debates on the 2021 National Budget got underway on Monday in the National Assembly with the APNU+AFC opposition criticizing the government for failing to consult with its leadership before finalizing the fiscal plan.
Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Geeta Chandan-Edmond said that the government’s failure to consult with the Coalition, the major opposition party, amounted to a breach of the Constitution.
Chandan-Edmond said the Coalition represents half of the Guyanese population and should not have been excluded from consultations on the budget.
“By not consulting with the party… I say to you that you have breached the constitutional provisions which are sacred and sacrosanct,” Chandan – Edmond told the House.
Chandan – Edmond statements were met with rejection by government MP Sanjeev Datadin. Responding to statements made by the former Magistrate, Datadin said consultants were had but the opposition choose to stay away in defiance.
“There were consultations with all sectors including other political parties. They consulted with the private sector, the labour movement and other political parties. If the Opposition does not want to attend the consultations then how can they be consulted?”
Datadin maintained that it was the APNU+AFC that stayed away from consultations. However, Chandan-Edmond said that no invitation was extended.
President Irfaan Ali along with Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh and other senior members of his government had met with members of opposition parties at State House in January 2021.
The APNU+AFC Coalition was not present and there was no indication on whether they were invited.
Chandan Edmond said had the APNU+AFC been consulted the budget would have been better for the people of Guyana, accusing the government of being uncaring and far removed from reality.
The Coalition has so far refused to recognize Dr. Ali and his government as being legitimately elected.
An invitation that was extended to former President David Granger to attend a former President’s meeting was turned down.
President Ali has always maintained that until the opposition recognizes him as legitimately elected then he would not engage them.