Before the 2019 National Budget is read later this month by Finance Minister, Winston Jordan, the National Assembly must first consider the proposed estimates for 16 Constitutional Agencies. But it would not have all day to do this. In fact, Members of Parliament will have just about two hours to consider the proposed budgets.

At a press conference yesterday, Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo registered his disappointment with these circumstances. He insists that more time is needed by the political opposition to examine the budgets of the agencies.

Jagdeo said that since these Constitutional agencies gained independence to draft their own budgets, the coalition administration has refused to grant them in full. Jagdeo said that the Finance Minister has been consistent with his cuts and stressed that the nation needs to know the reasons that informed his decisions.

The former Head of State said, “Last year, we agreed in the business subcommittee that although the agencies have the independence to set their own budgets, it does not preclude any debate on the matter by members of the National Assembly… We agreed that it would be 20 minutes per agency.”

The Opposition Leader added, “Low and behold, they hurriedly convened a committee meeting yesterday and decided to reduce the time to 10 minutes per agency and so we will have just over two hours to consider the budget for all the constitutional agencies in Guyana without having the ability to properly debate those submissions.”

Jagdeo said what is taking place is a quiet move to infringe on the right of Members of Parliament to provide its constituents with the all the necessary information it needs.

“It is an infringement on their mandate to scrutinize the expenditure of these agencies, to be the watchdog of the people…We take this seriously and unfortunately, the Speaker of the House (Dr. Barton Scotland) aids this process of infringing on the rights of Parliamentarians…,” Jagdeo complained.

He insisted that the Opposition needs more time to consider these matters.

The National Assembly is expected to consider the estimates for 16 Constitutional Agencies. These include Parliament Office, Office of the Auditor General, Public and Police Service Commission, Teaching Service Commission, Guyana Elections Commission, Supreme Court, Office of the Ombudsman and the Public Service Appellate Tribunal.


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