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|Rohee lambastes opposition criticisms of provisions in budget 2012|
|Saturday, 14 April 2012 21:41|
-- objections tantamount to national scam
AS THE 2012 budget debate continued, Friday’s session kicked into high gear when Home Affairs Minister, Clement Rohee and A Partnership for National Unity’s (APNU) shadow Home Affairs Minister, Winston Felix clashed over matters pertaining to the security sector. The APNU MP, a former police commissioner, lambasted the 2012 Estimates, noting that there was nothing in them to benefit or motivate ranks of the Joint Services, who play a critical role in providing security for the nation.
And Home Affairs Minister, Clement Rohee, speaking in defence of the 2012 Estimates, responded to Felix’s comments by boasting of the transformative impact the PPP/C administration had on the Guyana Police Force, the Guyana Prison Service, and the Guyana Fire Service.
He explained that, in Guyana, 9.57 percent of the revenue base goes towards the security sector; while Trinidad and Tobago, which has a GDP per capita that is five times higher than Guyana’s, contributes 11.53 percent of its revenue base towards security, a mere two percent higher.
Responding to Felix’s claim that there had been an upsurge in crime under the present administration, Rohee told the House in a comparative analysis that the total amount of serious crimes reported for 2001 was 4,546.
He said there had been a 17 percent spike in the reports in 2002, taking the figure to 5,308 for that year, but added that it was primarily due to incidents of robbery and murder that were spearheaded mainly by the prison escapees.
Moreover, he explained that, as a result of effective law enforcement action, the reports of serious crimes were reduced by 16 percent in 2004, from the high figure of 5,308 in 2003.
And in the analysis for the period 2004 to 2007, there had been a 23 percent reduction in reports of serious crimes, which fell from 4,442 in 2004 to 3,410 in 2007.
In 2008, the total of reported serious crimes was 3,675; and in 2011, the total reported was reduced by 3 percent to 3,583.
An overall assessment of the serious crimes’ situation in the country from 2001 to 2011 has indicated that the reports were reduced by 21 percent, from 4,546 in 2001 to 3,583 in 2011.
Rohee also lambasted opposition criticisms of the 2012 national budget, noting that the opposition members were harping on lack of transparency, which came as no surprise to the government.
“Are we to understand that nothing will be right until the Opposition is able to dictate its whims and fancies to the Government? Are we to understand that the AFC and APNU are custodians of transparency and accountability in the country?” the Home Affairs Minister questioned.
He disclosed that that could not be the case, since both opposition parties were known for peddling among the citizenry half-truths and misinformation in regard to government’s programmes and policies.
Rohee opined that the opposition should be offering a new and constructive approach; but APNU had, instead, reverted to what he deemed as the “same sterile, meaningless, hollow political arguments, placing us in the humdrum of parliamentary budget debates.”
He made reference to President Donald Ramotar’s inaugural address to the 10th Parliament last February, wherein he called on all parties to resist the temptation to ride “roughshod” over each other, as such an action would result in this new dispensation missing out on the historical opportunity for cooperation.
The presentations of the majority of opposition MPs suggested that government policies and programmes were not in the interest of the people, and were beneficial to only one section of the populace. Rohee deemed such sentiments an attempt to trick the people of Guyana.
The immense opposition criticisms were mere political posturing, Rohee opined, since there was nothing of substance in their objections.
“It’s all about the Opposition’s efforts at convincing people by political ‘kerfuffling’ and trickery that Government is giving them a raw deal, and, in so doing, is intentionally depriving them of their rightful entitlements. This is tantamount to executing a national scam,” Minister Rohee added.
He boasted that Guyana’s economy was dynamic and robust, and its programmes and policies were all-inclusive; ensuring that people were at the centre of development, and partnering closely with the private sector, contrary to what the opposition was trying to convince the populace.
Responding to APNU member, Rupert Roopnaraine, who spoke about a new political culture, the Home Affairs Minister said that such a culture would not come through a parliamentary dictatorship, or by establishing dominance of one side over another.
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