The government yesterday said that the opposition PPP/C had erroneously stated that allocations to constitutional agencies had been cut in the upcoming 2017 budget.
In a statement from the Director of Public Information, the APNU+AFC government released a table showing that to the contrary, there had been increases in allocations to constitutional bodies.
It acknowledged that the allocation to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) was cut and defended this by saying that no election was to be held in 2017.
The statement said that while the law provides for government to recommend reasonable amounts for constitutional bodies in keeping with what is affordable, of the 16 listed constitutional agencies, only GECOM has a reduced allocation.
“The reason for the reduced allocation is completely logical and eminently sensible. Both 2015 and 2016 were election years. 2017 is not an election year. Therefore, it cannot be expected that the GECOM allocation for a non-election year would be greater than its budget for (an) election years”, the statement said.
In the case of two agencies the Public Service Appellate Tribunal and the Judicial Service Commission the budgeted amounts for 2016 and 2017 are the same, the statement said.
The statement pointed out that there is new head to be funded the Public Procurement Commission which has been provisionally allocated $76.2M in the 2017 budget estimates for the establishment and functioning of this agency.
“The Coalition Government called on the Opposition PPP to act responsibly and to desist from willfully seeking to mislead the Guyanese public and using the constitutional agencies for political theatre”, the statement declared.
It charged that during its tenure in office, notoriously under the governments of Presidents Bharrat Jagdeo and Donald Ramotar, a refusal was shown by the PPP/C to giving block sums to bodies such as the judiciary.
“The reason why the former government did not permit the independence of these agencies in keeping with the intention of the Guyana constitution, was clear and evident. The PPP government used finances as a weapon of manipulation of these bodies”, the statement declared.
Speaking at a press conference hosted by the PPP/C on October 24, Anil Nandlall, Member of Parliament and former attorney general, told reporters that “government is violating the Constitution and the autonomy and independence which that Constitution confers upon constitutional agencies.”
He said they were “established by the Constitution and they are cloaked with functional autonomy and independence.”
As a result, they are protected from “any type of interference in the discharge of their functional responsibility…,” he added.
Nandlall alleged the budget of the Supreme Court of Judicature had been slashed from $2 billion to $1.77 billion, the Director of Public Prosecution’s budget has been reduced from $206 million to $168 million and the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has seen a reduction from $15 million to $10 million. Those figures differed from those supplied yesterday in the government statement.