Please permit me to offer a response to a letter by Tony Vieira in the Stabroek News edition of October 22, 2023, with the caption, “Opposition needs far bigger subvention from budget to effectively do its job”.
The author made reference to the subvention to the Office of the Leader of the Opposition in 2006–2010 of some $4 million annually. Assuming that he is correct, an Opposition member recently confirmed that they receive far more than this sum annually, which is about $30-$50 million annually. For the sake of argument, let’s use the lower amount of $30 million, that is 7.5 times the annual budget according to him, back in 2006-2010.
So, it is unclear by what he means that the opposition needs a “far bigger” budget to be effective. The question is “how big”, that is, how much more, and why and to do what? The fact of the matter is that it is not the size of the budget allocation that makes an effective opposition.
When the incumbent government was in opposition during the period 2015-2020, I was able to confirm that their allocation was less than the current opposition. In addition, the treasury saved $12 million per annum or $60 million over that period because the Opposition Leader then, now Vice President and General Secretary of the PPP/C, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, never took any salary as opposition leader, which is $12 million annually. (I was able to confirm this by the relevant agency that administers the Opposition’s budget i.e., Parliament).
Editor, so with that in mind, the current opposition is currently receiving a larger budget than the previous opposition, therefore, there is no need for a larger budget. Bearing in mind as well, that with a smaller budget, the previous opposition was extremely effective to the extent where they had successfully moved a no-confidence motion and won the elections in 2020.
Where was Tony Vieira then?