With just a few days more left before the 2018 National Budget is presented in the National Assembly, the Opposition is hoping that several critical issues are addressed, particularly the welfare of Guyanese.
Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo told a media conference on Wednesday that the Opposition is hoping that these welfare issues address the needs of children, pensioners, and other vulnerable groups.
“I hope that the Minister of Finance (Winston Jordan) will come with a budget that sets out clearly a pathway to growth and development and that would have specific initiatives that will enhance welfare of our people,” Jagdeo opined.
The former Head of State is also hoping that the budget will outline clear measures to create jobs in the economy, noting that these are pressing concerns of the people. “Billboards don’t work. I wonder how much is being spent on these billboards. It’s the content of the budget that will matter,” he added.
The Opposition is not prepared to accept another budget similar to the ones presented before, which were often times baseless but included policies to overtax the Guyanese populace.
A promise was made by Minister Jordan that there will be no new taxes in Budget 2018. But Jagdeo again reminded, “No new taxes are not a positive in itself, when you have already destroyed confidence in the economy, when you are in the process of killing many sectors like the mining sector, when the fiscal incentives to many businesses have been withdrawn…”
Last year’s budget was used to introduce several new taxes, a development that was heavily criticised by the private sector and the Opposition. But despite this, the Finance Minister had spoken of Government’s Sustainable Livelihood Programme, which he explained provides $100 million in outright grants.
Jordan said entrepreneurship would have to be the driving force for growth. As many persons continue to approach Government for jobs, they would learn to understand that there are only limited jobs available. “Even the best of Governments tried going into economic activity, and for the most part it has failed. The latest is GuySuCo, and I always say that the one that has kept us going is GuyOil,” he added.
As part of preparations for Budget 2018, consultations are being held with various stakeholders across Guyana. The budget team plans to meet with several trade union bodies, the private sector and non-governmental organisations. The 2018 budget is expected to cater for the long overdue construction of the East Bank Berbice road, which will cost approximately $1.5B.
The 2017 National Budget of $250B was the largest presented to the National Assembly by the APNU+AFC Government, since assuming office.
Budget 2018 will be presented to the National Assembly on November 27.