…also a recipe for escalation of crime and criminality
By Ramona Luthi
Amid widespread condemnation and rejection and even calls for the complete ‘withdrawal’ of Budget 2017, former PNCR Member of Parliament Joseph Hamilton yesterday told the House that the measures proposed in the Budget presented by Finance Minister Winston Jordan last Monday is a recipe for the further escalation in crime and criminality in Guyana.
“…less jobs, less opportunities for young people equals, as the Minister of Public Security will know, equals more crime and criminality,” Hamilton declared during the opening day of the budget debate.
According to him, the Budget presented by the administration is laced with poisonous measures that will attract “pressurization,” “sufferation” and “in some instances, murderation.”
Hamilton stated that with an increase of pressure on households, there will be higher reports of domestic abuse and suicide.
The Parliamentarian went on to assert that while Minister Jordan made announcements of many “firsts” in the 2017 budget, he failed to mention that “the budget was the first death announcement budget read on National Television.”
He reminded that since the announcement of what the 2017 budget holds for Guyanese, many persons have voiced their disapproval which is an obvious indication that the budget is “bad.”
“It is bad for businesses, it is bad for miners, it is bad for the sick and aged, it is bad for young people, it is bad for self-employed persons, it is bad for public servants, the teachers. Yep, it is bad for all Guyanese except the Government Ministers.”
Joseph Hamilton also told the House that the budget will do nothing to stimulate the country, or create jobs or put money into people’s pockets as was promised by the administration during the campaigning period of the elections. Instead, he asserted that by implementing the measures proposed in the budget, the coalition Government would be doing the exact opposite, and wreak havoc on the economy.
The Opposition PPP/C Member reiterated reports from the daily newspapers which stated that during the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s 127th Gala Dinner and Award Presentation held last week, Minister Raphael Trotman rebuked and admonished the citizens of Guyana while advising that “[we should] stop complaining about Budget measures and get busy.”
“What he was saying is drink from this poisonous chalice and don’t complain,” Hamilton asserted.
According to Hamilton, Trotman could afford to pay no mind to the cries of Guyanese, since his bills are being taken care of by the State. “The single mothers, the elderly across Regions One to Ten are not that fortunate like him and his colleagues in Government and therefore they have to complain. If you’re taking money out of my pocket, I will complain and I will continue to complain.”
In relation to tax implementations on electricity, water and removing items from the zero rated and tax exempt list, Hamilton told the House that when Jordan was confronted by citizens who were unhappy with his proposals, he [Jordan] quickly told them that these measures were conservation measures and not taxation measures.
“Oh what a tangled web he and his government is trying to weave…Nowhere in the Minister’s budget presentation did the Minister made mention that the 14 per cent VAT on water and electricity being a conservation measure. Why do you believe that you and your Government can make fools of the Guyanese people?” he questioned.
Hamilton related that the most “ludicrous and laughable statement in the Budget” was when the Finance Minister stated that “he will allow for people to bring in electrical charging stations.”
The Opposition Member continued that the Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson can hardly keep the lights on, and now they [Government] have begun conversations about electrical charging stations. “The power you have at the moment, even can’t keep our lights on so our children can study, can’t even keep our fridges working…and therefore in my humble opinion the measure about electrical charging stations is what I consider to be a rum shop gyaff.”
Hamilton also reprimanded the Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin since according to him [Hamilton], the Minister’s name should be “Willie.” The Parliamentarian explained that Gaskin has been known for always saying “We will” and never “we have done.”
“In nearly two years, this Minister (Gaskin) is yet to point us to a tangible accomplishment of his ministry,” Hamilton said while highlighting that investments have declined substantially under his watch.
Hamilton noted that claims have been made by Gaskin that an excess of jobs have been created, however, proof of this is yet to be presented. Hamilton further stated that there is evidence to support the fact that jobs have been lost, referring to the large number of employees that were relieved of their duties at Barama, BaiShanLin, Demerara Timbers and the Housing Sector.
The week-long budget debates continue today in the National Assembly.