“I can’t recall another budget in the history of my time that received this much criticisms and worry” – Manickchand during budget debate
By Ramona Luthi
Former Education Minister and People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Parliamentarian, Priya Manickchand has issued a warning to her fellow Guyanese to brace themselves for what is to come as regard the “shocking” and “draconian” measures that the Government has proposed in Budget 2017.
“This is a brace yourself budget…brace yourself Guyana for what is about to come,” she declared in a fiery presentation earlier today during the opening day of the budget debate in the National Assembly.
Manickchand explained that the measures proposed to be implemented by the Government via Budget 2017 have caused a great deal of concern and fear among Guyanese.
“I can’t recall another budget in the history of my time that received this much criticisms and worry, that received this much push back from as many citizens and as many sectors as we have seen with this present budget,” Manickchand posited.
The PPP/C Member of Parliament noted that the reactions among Guyanese ranged from anger and outrage, to bemusement and outright fear as to what the future holds.
In attempt to hit the nail on the head, the former Education Minister read reactions from the various sectors in regards to the budget.
“The Private Sector Commission said Guyana’s economy lacks clear direction, and they went on to say the Government should consider reversing its position as it [budget] would be a horrible impact on the poor. This policy they said, referring to VAT, would contribute to inflation, and will inhibit growth in the economy,” was one of the comments she read.
Manickchand, in her fiery presentation, also directed attention to the various headlines of today’s edition of the Guyana Times which read “Budget spells bleak Christmas for 2016 – double taxation on businesses will hurt our economy”, “Cut VAT from water, electricity- Guyanese it seems are destined to remain in poverty” and “New VAT regime was not recommended.”
Additionally, she backed her statements of the public’s opinion by displaying a copy of the newspaper’s “Vox Populi” where many citizens of Guyana voluntarily gave their views on the 2017 Budget presentation and how it would affect them.
“They were not afraid to put their names or faces to their opinions on the 2017 budget,” she said as she went on to read a few comments aloud to the gathering in Parliament.
She further went on to question the reason that so many persons- from both parties – have started to complain and lambast the Government for their decisions.
“Why? Why all these citizens? New Government, they didn’t rig the elections. Everybody love them and they put them in there. Why all of sudden all of these citizens now have these awful things to say about you?…could it possibly be that this is a budget that was ill thought out, that is senseless, that is going to cause us harsh living condition that will bring down our quality of life?”
Manickchand held on strongly to her opinion that this Budget will take away the “good life” and luxurious ways in which many have grown accustomed to, instead of creating betterment.
The PPP/C Member of Parliament went on to criticize the Government about the promises they failed to keep to Guyanese, regarding salary increases, job opportunities, and justice, highlighting that upon being elected they [Government] only sought to better things for themselves, pointing out the retroactive raise in salary they received.
“We were told that public servants could really get the 20 percent they had been promised…we can’t afford that right now. We can double ours, we can take more overseas trips, we can take our family and friends on those trips but you public servants, you can’t really get that,” she mocked.
Manickchand further reprimanded the government for the removal of education materials from the tax exemption list, questioning whether the budget proposals were thoroughly thought out.
According to her, there are more than 15,000 children in Region Four alone that attend Private Schools and now their parents will have another burden of taxed school items. She continued by querying if there was sufficient space in the public schools to facilitate the students, in the event that their parents can no longer afford to send them to private educational institutions.
Manickchand also stated that one can no longer afford to get sick now since VAT has been implemented on medicines as well. “You can’t even afford to get a headache now cause the Panadol is now going to be 14 percent more.”
The former Education Minister lambasted the proposal for there to be VAT on items required by the ‘differently abled’.
“Don’t you think that their life is hard enough without taxing them for the specific things they need? ” she questioned while pointing out that wheel chairs were zero rated under the previous PPP/C government.”
Manickchand advised Guyanese that “this is a brace yourself budget, brace yourself Guyana for what is about to come.”