The National Assembly today, after consideration of the 2017 estimates and expenditures, approved the budgetary allocation of $80M for the Office of the Prime Minister.
From this amount, monies are reserved for the Commissioner of Information, the Department of Governance and the constitutional reform process.
Key sectors catered for with this allocation under the Office of the Prime Minister include:
-Prime Minister’s Secretariat – Current Expenditures-$587M
-Governance Department – $44M
-Constitutional reform- $36M and a $40M pledge from Non-Governmental Organisations
-Moving the National Communications Network (NCN) from Analog to Digital TV Output- $10M.
Hon. Moses Nagamootoo, Prime Minister and First Vice President.
Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo who defended the allocations, told the House that $36M was allocated for the Commission of Information and the sum will be used for salaries and benefits for the Commissioner and other employees. He was responding to Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Juan Edghill’s question as to why an Information Commissioner’s office was placed under the Prime Minister’s office, and not given a subvention to operate independently.
In response to a follow-up question by MP Edghill as to what is the role of the Legal Advisor employed in the constitutional reform process, Prime Minister Nagamootoo said that the Legal Advisor, who acts as a coordinator, deals with matters pertaining to human rights, children and women welfare, legal issues, and is in the process of reforming the laws.
Further, Edghill questioned the Prime Minister on why $349M was allocated to NCN and the Government Information agency (GINA). He also wanted to know what is GINA’s role.
Prime Minister Nagamootoo responded that GINA no longer promotes propaganda, but is now an agency for national information. The Prime Minister added that the funds allocated will go towards wages, materials and equipment, fleet of vehicles, maintenance of the building, travel and services among others.
Meanwhile Opposition Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira requested that the Prime Minister provide concise information of how the sums allocated for NCN would be used.
Prime Minister Nagamootoo responded that from the $250M budget for the agency, $150 will be used for community radio stations, since NCN plans to extend its reach to far flung communities including, Bartica, Mahdia, Lethem, and Kwakwani among others.
A sum of $10M will be used to convert the transmission systems to High Definition, and $6M for network cabling to reduce unforeseen risk. The Prime Minister listed the use of the $250M after which the Opposition MP asked for a copy of the document with the information for more clarity.