The opposition, People’s Progressive Party has snubbed the government’s push for early presentation of 2017 National Budget, calling the move inexplicable and unwarranted.
Earlier this month, the government presented budget estimates for Constitutional Agencies ahead of the National Budget which is expected by December.
The opposition has however found fault with the estimates for the financially autonomous bodies even before those estimates are debated.
Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira, backed by former Junior Finance Minister Juan Edghill, accused the government of attempting to weaken and undermine the bodies.
She explained that for several of the agencies, the estimates represents a reduction of what was requested.
She said some of the monies have been reduced to reflect not only less than what was requested for 2017 but also less than what was approved in 2016.
“Slashing of the requested budget to less than what was received in 2016 is highly unacceptable,” Ms. Teixeira added.
Those agencies that had their requested expenditure reduced include the Guyana Elections Commission, the Supreme Court, the Indigenous People’s Commission, Parliament Office, and Office of the Auditor General, among others.
The opposition believes this move is aimed at removing scrutiny from the government and undermining democracy.
MP Edghill also highlighted that monies were set aside for several non-functioning agencies such as the Public Service Tribunal, the Public Procurement Commission, the Human Rights Commission and the Office of the Ombudsman.
The Opposition also believes that presenting the budget before 2017 and before the 2016 fiscal year is complete places its MPs at a disadvantage during the budget debates.
The PPP reasons that it will not be able to examine and compare the actual expenditure for 2016 since the 2017 budget will be presented and debated while the 2016 budget is still being implemented.
Edghill said the move seems to be one aimed at attempting to cover up challenges relating to accountability and transparency and prevent the opposition from properly scrutinizing the expenditure of 2016 budget.
He said this will not allow the government to escape the opposition’s scrutiny and diligence but claimed that presenting the budget in 2017 would have been more accommodating.