2018 Budget estimates…as House approves $2.2B for MoIPAOpposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira blistered Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Minister Sydney Allicock for his “ineptitude” in improving the lives of Indigenous people and his resorting to blaming the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) for that.Allicock, during the Committee of Supply meeting, said that the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) Administration is now bridging theOpposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira questioning expenditures for the Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Ministrydivide between Amerindian villages that was left by the PPP/C.He was, at the time, responding to questions about the cutting of over $336 million from the Amerindian Development Projects budget.“We need to unify this nation. We need to bring people together. Unity in diversity is our belief,” Allicock said.When questioned about the extra $24 million expended in 2017 under Buildings, the Minister explained that the monies were diverted from the savings of the Bina Hill Institute and promised to lay over the documentation to support that.“The biggest head is $981 million for (Amerindian Development Projects) and there is very little in this budget that will make a difference in the quality of life ofIndigenous Peoples’ Affairs Minister Sydney Allicockthe Indigenous people…so you cannot blame the PPP for your ineptitude,” Teixeira noted.She pointed out that Allicock boasted about the necessity of the Bina Hill Institute for hinterland development and sought to remind him that at one point, the Institute lost its funding from its overseas partners and it was the PPP/C that stepped in and provided it with a grant on the condition that it be headed by a Board to ensure transparency and accountability for the funding it received.“I have no issue with Bina Hill, but it is not the only part of Guyana…Bina Hill is getting $50 million, and you are reporting that they are getting the dormitories built and by the way, you said that you took the savings out of the dormitories to increase your 2017 budget by $24 million and you are putting it back in in your 2018 budget. So, I am wondering whether you have taken money that was meant for Bina Hill in 2017, use it, sidetracked it to another project, and then put it back in 2018,” Teixeira questioned.As it relates to the Hinterland Employment and Youth Service (HEYS) programme, the Opposition had a hard time finding the allocation under the current expenses of the Ministry and constantly grilled Junior Minister Valerie Garrido-Lowe, to point out the allocation. However, she was unwavering and after frustration from Teixeira, Garrido-Lowe related that the monies were allocated under line item Amerindian Development Programme in Capital Expenditure.This was intensely questioned by the Opposition since the programme is a two-year project and included wages and salaries, and should have been under the Current Expenditures heading. However, Minister Allicock explained that the HEYS was a “Special Project” without divulging any further detail. He also said that to date some 1976 youths have benefited with an additional 2000 slated to in 2018.PPP/C Member of Parliament (MP) Yvonne Pearson queried the figures for national events which saw $210 million spent in 2017, and $203 million being requested in 2018. Minister Garrido-Lowe, who responded to questions for Current Expenditure, explained that there would be no Heritage pageant next year, nor will Guyana host the 2018 Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organisation (ACTO) Traditional Knowledge Meeting, hence the reduction of the figures.However, at the end, with no objection from the Opposition, the Committee of Supply approved a total of $2.2 billion for the Ministry. The sums of $1,183,274 and $1,036,686 were for Capital Expenditure and Current Expenditure respectively.