Economist Ramon Gaskin is of the view that the 2016 Budget which is themed “stimulating growth, restoring confidence, a good life beckons” ironically lacked the requisite measures to achieve such. In his assessment, he said the Budget is nothing more than “pure rhetoric”.
Finance Minister Winston Jordan stood for three long hours yesterday as he read aloud the contents of the financial plan before a room full of parliamentarians and media operatives.
“My general assessment is that in terms of job creation and stimulating the economy to produce jobs at the local level, the budget failed miserably. There is no stimulus for the villages to create jobs and be productive,” he remarked.
In essence, Gaskin concluded that the budget is nothing but pure rhetoric and included nothing substantial to address the issues that were highlighted. “He highlighted the problems in the economy but he didn’t say how they plan to improve that… all of that is pure nonsense and has nothing to do with economic development and his optimistic forecast of growth, there is no justification,” he stated.
With respect to the money allocated for the sugar industry, Gaskin noted that the funds could have been better utilised. “The money for [Guyana Sugar Corporation] GuySuCo is money being wasted, money going down the drain, money that should be used to create jobs for the workers that are going to be displaced rather than giving money to GuySuCo,” he said, suggesting that the money be used to retrain the Wales sugar workers who will soon lose their jobs or to provide entrepreneurial grants to help in the startup of another business following the impending closure of the estate.
Commenting on the absence of tax reforms, Gaskin opined that it was a big disappointment.
Additionally, he lamented the fact that there were no salary increases for workers. He posited that Government’s excuse for not including wages increases is unacceptable.
“Government should have started consultations with the unions since September last year,” he stated.
President of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) Komal Chand shared similar views. Expanding on his overall assessment, Chand welcomed the $9 billion for the sugar industry but reminded that it is a significant reduction from what the Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo had promised which was $12 billion.
He also chided the government for not even uttering a single word about their plan for the workers at the Wales Estate.
Additionally, President of the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) Norris Witter conceded that the public will be tremendously disappointed about the absence of salary increases but he accepted that government must indeed consult widely with the unions before making a pronouncement.
Generally, Witter said he is satisfied with the overall budget, noting that it comes at a time when the economic conditions are hostile.
Ramesh Dookhoo, representative of the Private Sector Commission (PSC) for his part lauded the announcement of huge infrastructural projects and the tax break on alcoholic beverage.
He also expressed satisfaction with the $1200 increase in pension for the elderly population.