Guyana government agrees to budget consultation with opposition parties
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Friday December 16, 2011 - Faced with a parliamentary minority, the government has agreed to consult with opposition parties on the 2012 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure.
The deal was reached during a meeting yesterday at the Office of the President, a joint statement from the government, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance for Change (AFC) explained.
The leaders have agreed to delay convening a meeting this month of the National Assembly in which the ruling People’s Progressive Party/Civic controls a minority 32 seats. The remaining 33 are controlled by the APNU and AFC.
“The three parties would by Monday, December 19, 2011 exchange lists of issues for discussion and prioritization at the next meeting scheduled for Wednesday, December 21, 2011,” the four-point statement said.
“The three parties will name two persons each as their plenipotentiaries who will meet after the meeting of December 21, 2011 to work on identified and agreed on priority issues.”
The Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure must be presented by next year March.
The APNU said it is holding separate discussions with the AFC, the most recent of which took place on Monday.
The two parties are pushing for parliamentary reforms, support for the strengthening of the rule of law, lowering the Value Added Tax, and increasing public service wages.
“Increases in Old Age Pension, increase of public sector wages and a re-examination of the Presidents' Pension package were also listed for review,” the APNU said.
Meanwhile, the opposition party has called for the chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission and the chief elections officer to resign and for the body to be overhauled.
It said Chairman Dr. Steve Surujbally and Chief Elections Officer Gocool Boodhoo must be held responsible for the ‘incompetence” of the commission, which has consistently failed to provide early election results despite pledging to do so.
According to the party, some observers also view the long wait between ballot counting and the official declaration of the results as a scheme to alter the results of the November 28 general elections.
“Clearly, the Elections Commission under the present leadership has lost its legitimacy. A.P.N.U, therefore, calls on Mr Surujbally and Mr Boodhoo to do the decent thing and resign.
“Their resignation must be the first step in the process of a complete overhaul of the elections commission. A.P.N.U calls for the establishment of an independent and professional elections commission which is elected by 2/3 of the Parliament. There must be clearly set out criteria for membership of the commission. Such a commission will open new vistas for the proper conduct of elections that are credible and acceptable to the Guyanese electorate,” the party said in a statement.