By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Member of Parliament Joseph Harmon says budget 2014 is the worst ever produced by Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Signh and his team at the Ministry under his stewardship.
Harmon, who was at the time speaking during the ongoing budget debate in the National Assembly, opined that Dr. Singh and his budget team is tired and has produced an uninspiring document.
Harmon said the Finance Minister should follow the small voice within that is telling him to give it up, adding that the administration’s spending on public infrastructure is wrongfully prioritized.
The APNU MP told the House on Thursday, April 03 that public infrastructure pays a pivotal rule in the development of any country while pointing to the large sums money spent on projects annually which only create jobs for the ‘boys and benefits a few.’
He said his Party called for a national conversation on the transportation system in the country, inclusive of all roads, bridges, airstrips and waterways.
“The Government is locked in budget matrix… where the bulk of the public purse goes to a few transformational projects” Harmon said, adding that “they are locked into spending on Amaila Falls even if the investor pulls out, on the CJIA expansion even if it is uneconomical… there needs to be a change in priorities.”
Turning his attention to roads, Harmon said there needs to be a change in the manner in which the responsibility for the construction of roads and bridges are divvied up in the Government.
He said the current practice where several Ministries execute road works should be put to an end and make one Minister responsible for roads and bridges along with its prioritization and assessment. Harmon recommended too that all monies to be spent on roads and bridges be put together from all sources.
In relation to bridges, the APNU MP said the time has run out on the Demerara Harbour Bridge and urge the government to expedite the work on the new bridge. According to him, the Berbice Brige toll has been a drag on citizens, mostly those who reside in Region Six and called for the immediate reduction in tolls.
He told the House that the treatment of water transport facilities was also a need for concern taking into consideration the thousands of people who depend on it daily.
“Unfortunately the budgetary allocations have not been taken note of this reality.”
He reminded of motions passed calling for the administration to set up enquires into riverain accidents and expressed refreshed hope that they will be adhered to.
Harmon also called for increase allocation for the construction of facilities for speed boats, saying that the money from Amaila Falls Hydro Power Project should be used to deal with the situation.
The APNU wants an authority to review all matters with respect to Amaila and the full details of the CJIA expansion project.