By Ramona Luthi
The third day of the 2017 Budget Debates saw People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) Member of Parliament Ganga Persaud making a passionate appeal to the A Partnership for National Unity/ Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government to withdraw the budget restating the Parliamentary Opposition’s position that the planned estimates are meant to “suffocate, stifle and rob the Guyanese people.”
According to Persaud, the “Good life” proves to be quite elusive as it seems to be moving away from Guyanese with every Budget presented by the Administration since it came into office.
In his presentation, Persaud highlighted that the Government is constantly contradicting itself, citing the establishment of the Bertram Collins College as one example. He said that in spite of government’s talk about addressing racism and discrimination in the society, its actions prove otherwise, noting that most of the persons who were appointed to serve at the College are all of the same ethnic group.
He posited that it seems as though the Public Service Commission plays no part in filling public vacancies- as is their job- since the Bertram Collins College established by the Government is presently training persons to become prospective public servants.
During his presentation, the Opposition Member of Parliament also touched on the controversial issue of Government’s plan to charge VAT on electricity and water for certain categories of consumption, recalling that many years ago, havoc was created when the then PPP/C Government proposed to increase the cost for electricity.
“Electricity is a big issue…now VAT, I wonder what will happen,” he pondered.
Expanding on the issue, the former local government minister also questioned if the residents of Region 10 (Linden) will be charged VAT on their water and electricity. “We are talking about social cohesion. What’s good for one must be good for all,” he posited.
Additionally, in the same vein, the PPP/C MP questioned the reason for street lights being active in certain areas- more specifically Georgetown and Sophia- and being inactive in some- specifying the East Coast of Demerara areas.
He further questioned the present status of the street lamps that were removed from the Bath Settlement area after the village’s residents and Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) could no longer afford to pay the necessary costs.
He also inquired that if the street lamps were removed on this basis, “who was paying for the streetlights in Georgetown, Sophia and all over the place?”
Touching on the issue of Old Age Pensions, Persaud argued that during the PPP/C Administration’s tenure in office, pensioners were provided with subsidies on their electricity, water and allowed the benefits of free drugs and medical supplies.
Persaud concluded his speech by making a passionate appeal to Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, to withdraw the Budget and return with a financial proposal that allows for growth and development in the country that eventually would see citizens enjoying a higher quality of life.
The MP told the House that Budget 2017 was “a great disappointment to all of us in this country.”