It did not end there, as 21-year-old Odean Edwards had an armchair ride aboard his first ride, FIFTYONESTORM, at 8-5 in the fifth race over the straight and repeated the feat aboard 7-2 chance LUCKYBEGOOD, who made all impressively over 1300 metres in the sixth. Edwards, who is popularly called ‘Dino’, secured as many as five rides on the card. A past student of Bridgeport High, Edwards is apprenticed to trainer Richard Azan. Steadman rounded off a fantastic day for the apprentices with victory aboard the highly fancied SIR D for trainer Ryan Darby in the closing race over the straight for $180,000 claimers. Outgoing principal of the Jockeys’ School, Ina Lawrence, the JRC welfare officer, said she was elated that the youngsters came out on the first day and provided a treat for racing fans. “It was a fitting retirement present on my last day at work. I go on pre-retirement leave after today and, mindful of this, they said they would do something special for me. Five winners from 10 races is more than enough,” said Lawrence, who will be succeeded by Shantell Clarke. Meanwhile, ‘handicap certainty’ PERFECT NEIGHBOUR romped the $1.2 million Governor General’s Stakes over 2000 metres, winning the 56th running of the grade one race for the second straight year. Ridden by in-form Robert Halledeen for trainer Wayne DaCosta, the 2013 derby and St. Leger winner, came through on the inside of long-time leader, UNCLE TAF, approaching the final bend and proceeding to beat reigning ‘Horse of the Year’, TYPEWRITER, by five lengths as the 1-2 favourite. TODAY’S PROGRAMME, TIPS ON B6 IMPRESSIVE The new apprentice riders who recently graduated from the Jockeys’ School had an immediate impact on their first day in the saddle at Caymanas Park yesterday, three of them sharing five winners on the 10-race programme. Linton Steadman and Odean Edwards led the way with two winners, both winning aboard their very first rides. Steadman, 24, a past student of Waterford High, stunned the large crowd when winning aboard the 16-1 outsider, VISION, for champion trainer Wayne DaCosta in the third race over 1100 metres for the Keeling Memorial Cup. The grey colt ran on strongly from way off the pace to catch his previously unbeaten stable-companion DREAMLINER, the howling 1-5 favourite, in the closing stages. That marked the start of an apprentice rout, as in the very next race, Hakeem Pottinger, the 21-year-old son of ex-jockey Michael Pottinger, brought 2-1 chance MARIA’S GLORY for trainer Gary Griffiths with a strong run for a decisive win over a mile.
Budget for constitutional agenciesThe parliamentary Opposition has noted with deep concern that Government has moved to reduce the $10.29 billion that has been requested by 16 constitutional agencies in their Budget 2018 proposals and has therefore demanded a full debate on the matter at the next sitting of Parliament on Friday.Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has reminded that upon assuming office in 2015, the coalition Government had passed legislation to have the budgets of these constitutional agencies considered by the National Assembly separately,Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeofrom the annual national budget.In this regard, People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Members of Parliament (MPs) will be arguing for the constitutional agencies’ requests to be honoured. Jagdeo said previously, these agencies developed their budgets, it goes to the Finance Ministry and decisions are made based on what can be afforded.“I thought the whole purpose of the change (in legislation) was so that their (the agencies) budgets would be ring-fenced and the Minister of Finance cannot cut the budgets,” Jagdeo noted, while explaining that the Opposition will be requesting that the Minister give reasons for not approving the budgets.Constitutional agencies include the Auditor General’s Office, Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) as well as several Commissions – Public Procurement Commission, Teaching Service Commission, Public Service Commission, Ethnic Relations Commission, Judicial Service Commission, Human Rights Commission, among others.Referring to the schedule detailing the budget requests, the Opposition LeaderFinance Minister Winston Jordannoted that Minister Jordan justified the cuts by saying that the reduced allocation takes into account the economic outlook for 2018 for revenue, expenditure and growth in the economy, challenges in implementation encountered in 2017 and annualisation of salaries.However, the Opposition Leader told the media on Tuesday that the Minister will have to answer specific questions on what the economic outlook for revenue and expenditure is and what challenges were encountered in implementation in 2017, and what is the outlook for growth in the economy.Jagdeo said, “The country will recall that immediately after the coalition Government took office, it rushed through a law that will give ‘financial autonomy’ and suggested that the constitutional bodies were not treated with respect under the PPP Administration. Since then, we have been considering the budgets for the constitutional agencies separately from the core budget debate.”He continued, “…we have had some difficulty in the past two years, addressing this part of the debate. Somehow in the head of the Minister, he feels that this part of the Budget should not be debated fully… our members of Parliament are in no mood to go there and to be controlled in a narrow framework where the Government will once again hide behind parliamentary rules to avoid open debate on these issues.”Jagdeo said the PPP is of the firm belief that the $10 billion budgeted for the constitutional agencies should be a matter that will be subject to a full debate. “We support the view that if you give financial autonomy, then you must live with the consequences… we will be aggressively challenging the reasons he give for cutting the budgets of these agencies,” he added.Further, Jagdeo warned there will be “major expressions of disproval” if there is an attempt to truncate debates on this matter. “I hope they will not say we are vulgar again when we try to represent the people… if the Speaker and the Government try to truncate us raising these legitimate concerns of people across Guyana and try to shield the Minister from giving explanations for acting contrary to the legislation that they themselves passed, then you are going to see major expressions of disapproval from our side,” the Opposition Leader said.Asked specifically about the Budget 2018 request made by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), one of the 16 constitutional agencies, in light of the reports on procurement breaches at that agency, Jagdeo made it clear that procurement breaches at the Commission was not the justification cited by Jordan in cutting GECOM’s budget. “That was not his justification to cut the budget,” he asserted.Jagdeo also expressed the view that the requests made by the constitutional agencies can be met, if the wastefulness undertaken by the coalition Government is dealt with.