By Kristen Macklingam
“This Budget is elusive for many Guyanese except for the very few sitting in the Government benches… there are very few measures in the Budget that address the concerns of the poor and vulnerable,” says Opposition Shadow Agriculture Minister Dharamkumar Seeraj.
During his 2016 Budget Debate presentation this afternoon, Seeraj told the National Assembly that the APNU+AFC coalition has failed to even attempt addressing the promises that were made in its manifesto and on the election campaign trail.
“(They said) it is time to respect our workers, respect our farmers, respect our youth, respect our indigenous people, respect our women…a very well (run) campaign that addresses the concerns of every single group…promises made of the moon and stars with the sole objective to ensure that Guyanese people were brainwashed and bamboozled without any major thought about how these promises could be fulfilled. (They said) let us do whatever we can to get into power never mind how unreasonable some promises were,” Seeraj contended.
He explained that in relation to the 20 per cent increase in salaries for workers the nation is taking note of the fact that while this promise has not been fulfilled the Government Ministers did not fail to ensure that each minister benefitted from being paid hefty sums monthly.
Seeraj went on to say that the PPP/C has a ‘realisitic’ approach to the concerns of the citizens and had only promised rice farmers $3,000 per bag of paddy unlike the trumpets by the APNU+AFC of ensuring that each rice farmer received either $6,000 or $9,000 per bag instead.
According to the Opposition Shadow Agriculture Minister, his party “deals with reality” as he made reference to the retroactive payments which Government workers received last year by the Administration.
“This is the first time in recent years that workers get retroactive for half of the year…you were deceiving people to think they were getting more than they actually would have gotten because what they were given with left hand the right hand took double that…and sugar workers for first the time did not receive their Annual Production Incentives (API) in a year where they surpassed the target, the workers were punished for doing better…” Seeraj stated.
The PPP/C Member of Parliament posited that it is unacceptable especially since the sugar workers of the country have been performing yet they have not been granted any increase in their salaries/wages as well.
“They achieved their target and now they are getting fired with no answers as to their well being and their futures are being threatened by the move to close sugar estate… workers are questioning lack of API against the increases of ministers’ salaries…”