$10B approved for flood relief; more monies for GuySuCo, vaccines
In a late night sitting on Monday that ran into Tuesday morning and up against strong disapproval from the APNU+AFC Coalition Opposition, the People’s Progressive Party Government pushed ahead and defended supplementary funding to the tune of $23.2B.
The opposition was relentless in its questions on the emergency funding but in the end it was approved and will be used for a series of relief measures in response to the ongoing countrywide flood and COVID-19 pandemic.
Included in the monies approved to offset urgent expenses not foreseen during the presentation of the 2021 budget is $10B for to support the government’s flood relief and flood recovery efforts.
The government also now has at its disposal an additional $1.5B for the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo).
There are also monies for several infrastructural projects, grounds enhancement and the purchase of drugs and medical supplies including COVID 19 vaccines.
The government is expected to procure several thousand doses more COVID-19 vaccines after some $619.2M was approved by the Committee of Supply.
The funds were approved under two financial papers presented by Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh.
In response to the opposition objections, the finance minister explained that the funds were to address critical issues of national importance.
“Which right-minded Guyanese political leader would object to financing being provided to address this emergency of unprecedented national scale?” Dr. Singh questioned as he insisted that monies were needed to respond to the floods which has been declared a national disaster.
“Which right-minded person who claims to be concerned about the safety and wellbeing of the Guyanese people could possibly object to financing being provided to purchase and deploy Covid-19 vaccines?” Dr. Singh further questioned.
He said while the Government welcomes questioning, because it espouses principles of transparency, accountability and openness of government, he believes many of the questions were absurd.
“What I would say is that thankfully, we live in an era where our parliamentary proceedings are aired for all to see. The people of Guyana are observing these proceedings themselves.”
The first financial paper sought $1,283,250,000 in current estimates and $623,525,000 in contingency fund advances for the period April 1, 2021 to June 8, 2021. This totals $1,906,775,000. Included are funds for drugs and medical supplies, land and water transport for the Guyana Police Force, and air, land and water transport for the Guyana Defence Force.
The second financial paper sought $12,338,684,785 in current estimates and $9,021,700,266 in supplementary provision for the period ending December 31, 2021. This totals $21,360,385,051.