PM says Guyana Chronicle workers were at risk of losing jobs

first_img…as Opposition MPs question additionalspending of $11M for GINAPrime Minister Moses Nagamootoo came under fire from Opposition parliamentarians who demanded an explanation for the sudden spending of an additional $11 million for the Government Information Agency (GINA) even after some $181 million was approved in Budget 2015 for that entity.Prime MinisterMoses NagamootooMore than one month after the previous sitting of the National Assembly, Thursday’s session was suspended just minutes after getting underway for a private debate on the constitutionality of the consideration of a financial paper on advances made from the Contingency Fund totalling some $799.9 million.Just under one billion dollars had been spent by the Administration outside of what was provided for in the Budget for the period of September 1, 2015 to December 31, 2015.People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Member of Parliament Irfaan Ali challenged the motion brought by the Government, arguing that the spending of these monies flew in the face of the Constitution and the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act.He contended that the Minister shall not in the fiscal year, introduce more than five supplementary bills except in circumstances of grave national emergency.Further, he asserted that the financial paper should have been brought to the House as soon as practicable, before the passage of Budget 2016 in light of the date the monies were spent.When the sitting resumed, House Speaker, Dr Barton Scotland allowed a review of the extra budgetary spending.Finance Minister Winston Jordan was asked to respond to the challenge and posited that the financial paper were in his opinion brought to the Parliament “as soon as practicable”.In response to a subsequent concern raised by PPP/C MP Anil Nandlall, Jordan argued that the monies were indeed spent on situations that were urgent, unavoidable and unforeseen and of grave national emergency.As the consideration commenced, the House Speaker had disclosed that an additional $11 million was provided to GINA to offset partial liabilities owed to the Guyana National Newspapers Limited (GNNL) – Guyana Chronicle.When prompted by MP Ali, the Prime Minister revealed that the payment was made as part of an effort to keep the Guyana Chronicle viable in the face of monies owed by GINA.According to Nagamootoo, some $74 million was owed by GINA to GNNL.Jumping at this bit of information, MP Ali asserted that given that the debts were in existence before May 2015, then the monies spent did not meet the criteria to come from the Contingency Fund.But the Prime Minister explained that the exact figure owed was not made available until after the forensic audit was conducted into the operations of GINA.“It was only when we discovered that GINA was draining the life blood of the Chronicle that we decided that it was in fact an expenditure that could not be avoided, and (we) attempt[ed] to rescue the Guyana Chronicle,” he said.PPP/C MP Juan Edghill then questioned why the $11 million was accessed from the Contingency Fund and not by a supplementary paper that could have been brought, since the expenditure was not unforeseen and urgent.“If this expenditure was known as of May 2015, it might not have been known by the PM, it would have been known by GINA provisions for Budget 2015, this expenditure should have satisfied,” he posited.In response, the Prime Minister said the expenditure was incurred between September and December. He argued that the Guyana Chronicle could not have found money to meet its salaries and urgent demands were made, which produced a situation where workers at the news agency would have been thrown out of jobs.The PM and the Opposition MPs continued to trade barbs over the justification of the spending of the $11 million until it was finally approved by the Government with its slim parliamentary majority.last_img read more

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