By Kurt Campbell
The National Budget was presented by Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh to a tune of $22B on Monday (March 24) in the National Assembly.
The Opposition Leader opined that the budget is not developmental and will not substantially affect the lives of the masses, particularly poor people. However, he did not indicate what aspects of the Budget the Opposition intends to cut.
“It is simply not a development budget and country will be in the same position it is today come March 2015,” Granger told reporters minutes after the budget was presented.
He said he was faithless that the 2014 budget would create jobs or reduce poverty, adding that it is in many ways divorced from reality.
In relation to a $1B that was awarded for entrepreneurial ventures in rural communities, geared towards creating jobs, Granger said he also lacked hope that this would do as intended.
In making his point, Granger recalled a hinterland school that is equipped with computers but unfortunately has no electricity.
“It is one thing to boast about these provisions but we don’t see any development on the ground,” the Opposition Leader said.
Granger said his hope was that old age pensions would have increased to $15,000 as opposed to the five percent increase announced by government, bringing it to $13,125.
“I would have liked to see the provision of school buses and boats, particularly in inland regions because the lack of transportation is preventing a lot of children from attending school.”
He said his Party will be looking at the allocations for sugar and energy to ensure that ‘good money is not thrown after bad’.
Granger said his Party will meet in preparation for budget debates commencing Monday, March 31. The Alliance for Change (AFC) earlier walked out of the budget presentation.
According to the AFC, the Party is registering “its protest against the violation of our constitution by this government in not holding meaningful consultation on the budget, whilst it had time to do so.”
The combined opposition had managed over the last two years, using its one seat majority in the House to significantly reduce the estimates, while at the same time starving several government agencies of millions of dollars.