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National Assembly approves $177.4 billion budget – 25th Apr 2013

Parliament_Georgetown_GuyanaAfter a month of arguments, the National Assembly last evening approved the 2013 National Budget. However, the budget was not the $208.8 billion presented by the Finance Minister.

After a series of amendments, the budget was reduced to $177.4 billion.

Here is a breakdown of the budget cuts that were made.

$19 billion was cut from the allocation for the Low Carbon Development Strategy. The opposition argued that the money has not yet been approved by the Inter-American Development Bank, but once it is approved, the Government can return to the National Assembly and ask for approval.

The second largest cut was $5.6 billion, under the Ministry of Public Works. The opposition had only intended to cut $5.3 billion for the expansion of the Cheddi Jagan Airport expansion plan, citing lack of transparency. However, owing to a mistake, the opposition had no choice but to cut funding for the airport expansion plan and other transport projects, including for hinterland roads, the Civil Aviation Authority and the Ogle Airport.

The third largest cut was $5.2 billion in subsidies for the Guyana Power and Light Company. The other cuts were $1.25 billion for the Speciality Hospital on the grounds that there was a lack of transparency, and a total of $217.1 million from the Government Information Agency and the state-run TV and radio NCN, under the grounds that the entities were only pushing propaganda and shutting out opposition voices.

Despite the budget cuts, the Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh expressed satisfaction with the final budget.

The opposition had argued that a budget that could have satisfied all could have been presented if the Government was truly committed to consultation. With the controversy over the budget cuts, President Donald Ramotar met with the Parliamentary opposition, namely APNU and AFC, and committed to a tripartite budget process for next year’s budget. This process will commence at the start of July, the Opposition Leader David Granger announced.

After a month of arguments and budget cuts, the Speaker, Raphael Trotman expressed his thoughts about the process.

And for the final day of the budget, at least four Government Ministers came out flaunting the colours of the ruling party, even if the getup seem to resemble the outfits worn by waiters at a certain Chinese restaurant in town.

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