Dr Singh mulls replenishment for agencies that spent budget money on flood-relief
By Vishani Ragobeer
A number of government agencies redirected their resources towards flood-relief efforts and as such, their funds may need to be replenished to allow them to engage in their substantive plans and programmes for the year.
This is the view of the Senior Minister within the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, who engaged members of the media during an outreach activity at the Giftland Mall, Georgetown, on Saturday.
One such agency that redirected its resources, the Finance Minister said, was the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA). According to the minister, this agency spent its money on aiding the deployment of drainage pumps and other flood equipment.
“… there are agencies that utilised their existing budgetary resources to execute the immediate post-flood response, we’re also going to have to be looking at that because we are going to have to do some kind of replenishment (for) those agencies to ensure that they are able to execute their originally planned programmes,” Dr. Singh explained.
As such, Dr. Singh hopes that considerations for these ‘replenishments’ could be completed soon so that the agencies’ budgets could be restored thereby allowing them to engage in their original work plan.
Meanwhile, the Finance Minister also related that a nationwide survey has been ongoing and it is expected that this survey will guide the creation of an “optimal package” for flood-relief for households, farmers and other affected groups. This relief package will use the $10 billion supplementary budget approved by the National Assembly last month.
Dr. Singh said that Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha has been spearheading the survey and already, the local authorities have been examining the data gathered.
There are preliminary indications, according to the minister, that a number of sectors have been affected by flooding. The agriculture and mining sectors, he said, have been particularly hard-hit. Recognising this, Dr. Singh said that a focus will be placed on restoring productivity in the various sectors of the economy.
“This is also going to influence the shape of the support that we provide as well because we want production to get back to pre-flood levels and even ramped up further because we want to make sure that adequate agricultural produce gets to the market,” he related.
Dr. Singh is hopeful that the assistance can be rolled out to all affected people shortly.