By Ramona Luthi
Minister of State Joseph Harmon has contended that Guyana will become a better place with the various measures outlined in Budget 2017, but the Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) is using “scare tactics” in order to instill doubt and fear into the minds of Guyanese.
Harmon’s sentiment yesterday during the ongoing week-long debate on the 2017 Budget, came in the wake of widespread condemnation and rejection and even calls for the complete ‘withdrawal’ of Budget.
According to the Minister of State, the allocation and controversial tax measures depicts the strength of the Coalition Government to make tough decisions in an effort to build the economy.
He appealed to Guyanese to understand the actualities within the 2017 Budget, noting that they are being misguided into believing that implementation of the proposals in the Budget will spell doom for the country.
“…reason will resume its seat when you allow emotions to take flight,” was his philosophical declaration.
According to Harmon, the PPP/C was responsible for the country’s lawlessness and disregard for rules.
“It was this environment of lawlessness which was the hallmark of the previous administration,” Harmon said as he pointed to the display of apparent wealth of persons employed in government services.
The Minister noted that the “tougher decisions”’ that are now being made by the administration is to ensure that laws, order and systems are in place to ensure a solid foundation for the economic future.
Harmon diverted once again, as he reiterated that the PPP/C are engaging in scare tactics with the intention of dwindling support ahead of time. He referred to the Opposition Congress which will be held in a few days in Essequibo.
He claimed that a similar tactic was used once before by the Opposition with regards to the amendments to the Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) laws.
According to him, the party had at the time went about scaring Guyanese by informing them that businesses will have to be closed unless the present administration abides by the recommendations made by the PPP/C.
He stated the Opposition is trying to “vilify a well crafted budget for their narrow political agenda.”
There has been widespread condemnation of the budget from not only the Opposition PPP/C but also the Private Sector Commission, businesses, civil society organisations and the ordinary man in the street ‘bracing’ for the expected squeeze from some of the harsh measures in the budget.
When the debate opened on Monday, Chairman of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Former Housing Minister and now Shadow Finance Minister, Irfaan Ali was the first to begin the charge for the Government to withdraw the proposed Budget.
According to Ali, the budget is laced with inaccuracies in regards to the economic performance of the country and is completely inundated with too many taxes that would spell doom for Guyanese.
He asserted that the presentation that was done by Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan last Monday held no initiative that would enhance the country’s already decreasing economy or provide betterment for the citizens.
On the opening day of the debate, former PNCR Member of Parliament Joseph Hamilton told the House that the measures proposed in the Budget is a recipe for the further escalation in crime and criminality in Guyana.
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.”
Former Education Minister and PPP/C Parliamentarian, Priya Manickchand also 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 on Monday during the opening day of the budget debate in the National Assembly.