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House approves $32.5M for Opposition Leader’s office, $3.5B for GECOM – Guyana Times

– budgetary allocations for other constitutional bodies also approved

The Parliamentary Committee of Supply on Tuesday approved the budgetary allocations for local constitutional bodies on Tuesday, during the commencement of the Consideration of Estimates for the 2024 National Budget.
Among these is $32.5 million for the Office of the Leader of the Opposition – an increase from $28 million in 2023.
This budgetary provision was catered for under the Parliament Office, which received $2.2 billion this year, an increase, of $233 million when compared to 2023.

Parliamentary Affairs and Governance Minister, Gail Teixeira

Before the National Assembly, Opposition Parliamentarian Ganesh Mahipaul questioned whether Parliamentary Secretaries Vikash Ramkissoon and Sarah Browne will be paid, given that Acting Chief Justice Roxane George ruled in 2023 that their “appointment was unlawful”.
In her response, Parliamentary Affairs and Governance Minister, Gail Teixeira disclosed that the wages for the Parliamentary Secretaries in question will be paid for the fiscal year, along with the wages for Junior Ministers, the Opposition Leader, Chief Whips and the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, among others.
Some $503 million was provided in this year’s budget for statutory wages and salaries.
“Honourable Member you’re well aware that the court ruled that they cannot sit in Parliament, however, Parliamentary Secretaries are provided for in the constitution and can be paid from the Parliament Office… So, yes Sir they are paid under statutory wages and salaries,” Minister Teixeira explained.
Further, she explained the increase in the budgetary allocation for the Opposition Leader’s office was a result of the 6.5 per cent retroactive salary increase approved last year by the government for the public sector.
Guyana Elections Commission
In addition, $3.5 billion was approved for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) by the Parliamentary Committee of Supply.

While GECOM’s allocation was decreased this year, a substantial amount of money was set aside in the budget for the maintenance of infrastructure as well as the procurement of office and medical supplies, among others.

Opposition Parliamentarian Ganesh Mahipaul

Minister Teixeira explained that the money deducted from GECOM’s budget was the provisions made for local government elections in 2023, noting that the provision isn’t necessary given that Guyana will not be hosting elections in 2024.
However, on the topic of wages and salaries, the Minister was quizzed by Opposition Parliamentarian Volda Lawrence on why wages and salaries went up taking into consideration that there are no elections this year.
“We’re told that last year the commission catered for the local government elections and so we see wages and salaries at $1.6 billion. In 2024, where there are no elections, why do we see the increase to $1.799 almost $1.8 billion,” Opposition Parliamentarian Lawrence asked.
In response, Minister Teixeira reiterated that the larger sum caters for the 6.5 per cent salary increase.

Further, she pointed out that there is no allocation for the procurement of biometric equipment since the Commission has not decide on whether it will use biometrics- be it fingerprint scanning or otherwise- in local elections as yet.
“I am advised that the increase is due to the 6.5 per cent increase in salaries and also the gratuity that’s paid annually to the staff. Some peoples’ six months would cross over into 2024 from 2023. So, although the staff maintenance of those who are permanent staff are paid as you know temporary staff is paid separately and not under this,” Teixeira explained.
Meanwhile, also on Tuesday, $4.7 billion was approved for the Supreme Court of the Judicature; $420 million for the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions; $67 million for the Office of the Ombudsman; $68 million for the Public Service Appellate Tribunal; $238 million the Ethnic Relations Commission; $17.5 million the Judicial Service Commission; $185.4 million the Rights Commissions of Guyana; $184.5 for the Teaching Service Commission and $270.9 million for the Public Procurement Commission.

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