Gov’t won’t go to polls over budget cut, says Luncheon

-signals negotiations with opposition

Government will not call early elections over its present gripe that the opposition slashed more than $37B from its national budget for this year.

“Elections are not at the top of the list when there are solutions and the arrival of compromises and action to be taken to rectify this situation,” Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr. Roger Luncheon told reporters yesterday.

“I for one feel that this issue, of the non-approval of funding, can indeed be addressed without the resort to elections,” he added.

Through the budget debate and during the consideration of the estimates, government ministers had warned their opposition counterparts about the cuts, saying that they risked losing votes at prospective polls.

Some $37.4 billion was cut from the estimates this year, bringing the $220 billion budget originally proposed by government down to $182.6 billion. The overall cuts for 2014 exceeded the amounts cut in 2012 ($21 billion), and in 2013 ($31 billion). However Luncheon said that while the cuts were the worst since the new parliamentary configuration in which the opposition gained the majority, the issue was a resolvable one.

“This 2014 appropriation is, however, more draconian that its predecessors—2012 and 2013—[but] never forget that you’re dealing with politicians and the cut and thrust of the political process and indeed matters more profound have been resolved without resorting to extremes,” he asserted.

He explained that government would be negotiating with the joint opposition to work out an amicable end. He added that the administration would also be exploring whether to take the matter to the High Court as it believes that much of its work would be “disrupted” by the cuts.

Luncheon also informed that up to Tuesday, the Appropriation Bill had not yet reached the President’s desk for assent. He would not say if it was still with Attorney General Anil Nandlall’s office.

 

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