The Parliamentary Opposition parties, A Partnership for National Unity and the Alliance For Change used their combined majority in the National Assembly on Thursday afternoon to once again reduce the budgets for the State owned National Communications Network and the Government Information Agency to $1 each. This is the second time in as many years that the Opposition parties have left the two state agencies with a reduced purse.
During the examination of the estimates for both NCN and GINA, the Opposition raised a number of questions about the money taken away from the two bodies last year and how that money has found itself back in the budget as money spent. The Government’s position is that a ruling by the Chief Justice allowed the administration to tap into the consolidated funds and replenish the finances of the two state-owned agencies.
The Opposition raised questions about the hiring of new staff members at the National Communications Network. Minister within the Ministry of Finance Bishop Juan Edghill told the House that the staff component remained the same. He said there were 179 persons in the employ of NCN in 2012 and that figure remained the same.
There were also queries about the investigation into financial fraud at NCN and whether the outcome of the probe has been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions for advice. The junior Finance Minister said he does not have information on that particular matter.
Opposition Leader David Granger has promised the cuts to NCN and GINA since he said they have not changed the way they handle the nation’s business as state media agencies. Granger said the two bodies operate as if they belong to the ruling People’s Progressive Party.
The budget for the Government Information Agency has been reduced to $1 from $135 Million while NCN will also take away $1 from its budgeted amount of $81 Million.
Minister Edghill said he wanted the House to note that the budget for GINA was reduced without any questions being asked.
Last year during the budget estimates consideration, NCN revealed that in 2011, it made over $500 Million on its own from the airing of television shows and advertisements.
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