No ‘rag-tag’ ventures or pet projects will be approved – AFC warns

Government will not be allowed to get away with underhand budgeting practices was the stern message the Alliance For Change made in its appeal for the government to come to the negotiating table on the 2014 National Budget before the detailed examination of the estimates in the Committee of Supply begins.

A statement from the AFC said that the government, fully aware that the AFC would not give its support for a few of its pet projects and ‘rag-tag’ ventures that serve only to enrich the PPP and its cronies, had sought to lump the allocations for these projects with other projects that the AFC would be inclined to support.

It cited the example of the allocations for NCN and GINA being lumped with allocations for security at the Office of the President. It deemed this sort of budgeting as deceitful and trickery. It pointed out that this was an attempt by the government to foster bad spending by hiding it under layers of good spending.

The AFC said that when the examination of the estimates starts in the Committee of Supply today, the party will be asking serious questions and will be expecting serious and detailed answers. It said that the AFC would make strong recommendations for the Finance Minister to amend his estimates or face the likelihood of not having the estimates approved.

It said that the government will be responsible if the 2014 budget is not approved, as it is up to the Minister of Finance to bring to the National Assembly, a budget that the House can approve. It said that at this late stage the ball is in the Minister’s court as he must be guided by what transpires in the Committee of Supply.

“The Alliance For Change wants to make it clear that we have no desire to deprive any person of their job or their wages or any community of real development. Neither is it our desire to ‘shut down’ this government. However, it is the duty of a responsible government to separate bona fide, legitimate and reasonable spending from the areas of ‘slush and sleaze’. Should the government attempt to force on the opposition a budget riddled with ‘pet projects’ it would be to their detriment and they would have to answer to the people,” the statement warned.

It said that while the AFC fully supports the vast majority of the allocations in the 2014 Budget the party would be hard pressed to support a few allocations and it is in this context that the party has made a last-minute appeal for dialogue.

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