Opposition accused of plotting against Guyana government
Budget cuts have crippled the administration’s planned policies says Lumumba.
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Wednesday June 13, 2012 – Odinga Lumumba, presidential advisor on community development, says that the over $20 billion (US$98 million) in cuts to the 2012 national budget by the opposition parties in April is a plot to weaken the People’s Progressive Party civic administration in Guyana.
During a programme broadcast on the National Communications Network, Lumumba noted that for development to take place in any country there must be revenue, and as such, the move has resulted in the crippling of the administration’s planned policies and programmes that were promised to the people of Guyana.
“This move by APNU/AFC is mere wickedness. They have determined with their one seat majority that they will make the country’s decisions in whatever interest they feel is important,” he said.
Citing the need for harmony and good sense to prevail, Lumumba stated that government officials have met with members of the opposition on a continuous basis with the aim of taking the country forward, and to date there has not been a favourable response.
While supporting the government’s move to the courts to challenge the budget cuts as unconstitutional, he said: “In order for the president to function he must have a budget… if you take that away from him you are making him non-functional.”
Last week, the High Court gave the opposition up to July 3 to prepare its submissions on why an interim order applied for by government should not be granted.
The order would permit the finance minister to withdraw from the Contingencies Fund the sums originally budgeted for. The minister presented a $192.5 billion budget in late March.
Lumumba said that thus far the government has reacted positively to many of the opposition’s requests. One example is the increase in the old age pension from $7,900 to $10,000 per month.
The presidential advisor reminded that politics should at no time reach the point where the poor and working class are the ones who suffer, as hundreds are on the breadline.
He noted that while the programmes under other ministries and agencies are moving apace, those that fall under the offices whose budget was cut are currently at a standstill.
“If the budget cannot be restored at some point in time, the government will not be able to function and the people of Guyana will have to make a decision on the way forward… this budget cut is a political one as the opposition is trying to make the PPP look bad,” he said.
During the presentation of the 2012 estimates and expenditure in the National Assembly, several agencies’ budgets were reduced to $1, including the One Laptop Per Family programme (OLPF), State Planning Secretariat, National Communications Network (NCN), Government Information Agency (GINA), State Planning Secretariat and the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC).
The Low Carbon Development Strategy has also been slashed, which has affected several projects under its purview including the Amaila Falls hydro power, Amerindian Development Fund, and the fibre optic cable that was expected to provide easy and fast access to government services.