Tuesday, February 16, 2010

PM rethinks discussing President’s overseas expenditures

News news item, Tuesday 16 February 2010. PM rethinks discussing President’s overseas expenditures

February 16, 2010 | By KNews | Filed Under News

A statement by Prime Minister Samuel Hinds during the wrapping up of his presentation in the House last evening on the 2010 budget debates sparked a temporary bout of confusion when he attempted to defend the expenditures of President Bharrat Jagdeo’s overseas trips.
The moment the Prime Minister made mention of the fact that he wanted to address the issue, it immediately enticed the opposition to trigger a barrage of solicitations calling for him to disclose the expenditures.
At this point in time, Speaker of the House, Ralph Ramkarran, cautioned the Prime Minister that should he tread that path, then it would open the ‘flood gates’ and allow the opposition to voice their position on the issue unhindered and it would only be fair.
This seemingly stumped the Prime Minister on how to proceed with the matter and after some amount of visual consultation with his colleagues and a gesture by Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh, to the effect that he should not venture down that path, Hinds skirted the issue and took his seat.
The Prime Minister told the House that the President had many obligations which caused him to travel and meet with other leaders and potential investors.
The issue of the President’s overseas trips and the expenditure attached to them has been a bone of contention between the Opposition and the ruling party.
Only recently, politician and former Minister in the Guyana Government, Dr Richard Van-West Charles, said that President Bharrat Jagdeo needs to report more often to Parliament, especially as it relates to his overseas visits and their expenditures.
This, Van West Charles said, was particularly important, given that the members of the National Assembly have to approve the monies that he uses for his many overseas trips.
He said that the President has visited a great deal of countries but he has failed to inform the Members of Parliament exactly what has transpired on the trips overseas.
The Office of the President, specifically President Bharrat Jagdeo, has also come under fire in the media as it relates to the cost/benefits of his many trips overseas.
Leader of the Alliance for Change, Raphael Trotman, had charged that the President’s overseas trips over the past two and a half years, cost close to G$1B [USD 5 million].
This has since been refuted by Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh, who placed the figure of the expenses of the entire Government at about G$200M [USD 1 million], adding that a quick perusal of the estimates laid in the National Assembly could verify this.
Trotman has since said that he is standing by his position as it relates to the President’s expenditure.
In recent times, President Jagdeo has been to Iran, Kuwait, Dubai and Libya among numerous other state visits.