tripartite budget talksThe pre-meditated continuing output of deliberate misinformation, from the Minister of Finance, confirm the position of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) that, despite the publicly stated commitment by President Donald Ramotar, it was never his intention to conduct meaningful discussions with the AFC and APNU that could impact significantly on the framing of the 2013 National Budget.

It must be noted that the first tripartite meeting was held on Wednesday 21st December 2012 at the Office of the President. At that meeting, the Opposition Parties raised pertinent questions and requested specific information to enable us to become meaningfully involved in the framing of the 2013 National Budget. The Minister of Finance asked for the requests, from the Opposition, to be submitted in writing and this was done without undue delay. However, none of the information requested was provided.

The second meeting was hurriedly convened, on Friday 8th February 2013, after the Opposition stated publicly that the Minister was simply engaging is playing puerile PR propaganda games. That meeting proved to be nothing but a “shadow boxing” exercise, since none of the information requested by the Opposition was, up to that date, supplied. It should be recalled that the information requested by APNU was essentially that which the Financial Management and Accountability Act specifies should be made available by the Minister of Finance to inform the Budget making process.

Eventually, on Tuesday 26th February 2013 one (1) copy each of a voluminous document, containing 15 attachments, entitled, GOG CONSULTATIONS WITH APNU AND AFC ON BUDGET 2013, was sent to APNU and the AFC with the unreasonable request for a meeting to discuss same on Friday 1st March 2013. It should have been obvious to the Minister that the Parties would have to circulate copies of the document to their own Budget Teams for review. Therefore, the Minister was informed that a new date would have to be agreed. In the meantime, he was asked to provide additional copies of the document to facilitate the process of internal evaluation. The additional copies were received on Thursday 7th March 2013.

On review of the documents submitted, it became evident that, given the short time remaining for the Budget to be presented to the National Assembly, the Minister had not provided the vital information which would be needed for any serious discussion and meaningful inputs, by the Opposition, into the 2013 National Budget. Therefore, the invitation by the Minister was to nothing short of another round of a meeting about another meeting. In other words, a waste of time!

In the meantime, the AFC has formally withdrawn from the process.

The charade conducted by the Minister of Finance can only mean that it was his intention all along that the 2013 National Budget would have to be dealt with on the floor of the National Assembly. Perhaps, he is convinced that he could safely shelter under the umbrella of the “provisional ruling” by the Chief Justice!

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