Finance Ministry seeking to slash Gecom budget request by $815M

For 2018, the Ministry of Finance is recomending $815 million less than what has been sought by the Guyana Elections Commisison (Gecom).

Next year, local government elections are due and there would have to be substantial outlays by Gecom.  The $2.9 billion that the Finance Ministry is recommending for 2018 is close to the $3 billion that was spent by Gecom at the historic 2016 local government elections.

Minister of Finance Winston Jordan on Thursday submitted for the approval of the National Assembly the 2018 Annual Budget Proposal of Consitutional Agencies.

While the 16 Consitutional Agencies have submitted budgets totalling  more than $10 billion, their requests are accommanied by the recommenations of the Minister of Finance, which reduces their requests to just over $8 billion in total.

Table showing budgetary allocation for Constitutional Agencies from 2016-2017

Gecom requested a budget of $3.7 billion but Jordan recommends $2.9 billion.

The newly constituted Public Procurement Commission (PPC) has also seen its request reduced from $251 million to $177 million. The Ministry notes that this recommended allocation takes into account the economic outlook for 2018 for revenue, expenditure and growth in the economy as well as challenges in implementation encountered in 2017 and the annualisation of salaries. It also notes that the PPC’s budget 2018 submission did not fulfill all the requirements of the 2018 Budget Circular, since it  did not include a procurement plan.

Similar reductions in budgetary requests were made for all but three of the 15 agencies. The Minister has recommended that the Teaching Service Commission, Judicial Service Commission and Human Rights Commission receive all $123 million, $10 million and $31 million they have requested, respectively.

The Public Service Apellate Tribunal should, however, according to the Ministry receive less than half of the $105 million it has requested. Last year, that agency received $35 million in allocations and it has been recommended that it receive $51 million.

The Ministry explained that the increase from $35 million caters for full year operating expenses due to the appointment of a Chairman and two members in May, 2017. Meanwhile, the recommended allocation takes into account the economic outlook for 2018 for revenue, expenditure and growth in the economy, challenges in implementation encountered in 2017 and annualisation of salaries.

Again, this budget submission failed to include a procurement plan and therefore did not fulfill the all the requirements of the 2018 Budget Circular.

Other recommendations include $43 million for the Women and Gender Equality Commission, $42 million for the Rights of the Child Commission and $86 million for the Ethnic Relations Commission.

The newly-consituted Local Government Commission (LGC) is not included in the submission since its members are still to draft and submit a budget to the Ministry of Finance. A member of the commission told Stabroek News yesterday that this is one of the things at the top of a very packed agenda for the LGC.

The member noted that as the first ever LGC, the commission is most concerned with crafting a scope of work, which includes the many duties ascribed to it in the Local Government Commission Act.

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