…says will also lessen time available for parliamentary scrutiny
A November Budget will kick start Government’s spending way before the commencement of a new fiscal year and will lessen the time available for parliamentary scrutiny, Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo has affirmed, while again criticising the David Granger-led Administration for the announcement of an early budget.
The Cabinet has decided in principle to advance the presentation of the National Budget one month before the new year, from November instead of January. The objective is to have the Budget constitutionally approved by Parliament and assented to by the President, and all allocations at different tiers disseminated, before the financial year begins on January 1.
The aim is that all spending authorities within the system and those financially dependent on Government would be in a position to work out their activities with assured resources in the beginning of the year without hesitation. Government has said with annual financial resources approved and bestowed in November, a more planned and regulated expenditure profile during the year is expected.
But Jagdeo has said that there were many downsides to an early budget. The Opposition Leader thinks that presenting an early budget does not carry any meaning, if its contents are lacking many basic policies that are not catered for the upliftment and betterment of the Guyanese people.
“So, if you have an early budget that has a slew of new taxes and administrative measures that will bring hardships to people, push up their cost of living and create disincentives to the Private Sector, then all you are doing is bringing the hardships earlier,” he told a media conference on Tuesday.
“If the Budget is presented in November, the Minister comes to Parliament with estimates up to the end of the calendar year about spending. So, he will say I have actual numbers up to November 30 and I am estimating what it will be on December 31, which is our financial year,” he added.
According to him, referencing the first quarter’s financial report and what Finance Minister Winston Jordan said in Parliament last November when he presented the Budget about where the finances of the country would be on December 31, it would be totally inaccurate.
“He spoke of a higher growth rate than the final growth rate. And the good thing about presenting a budget in January or February is that you have final numbers for the year,” he added.
The former Head of State said the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) was concerned that in presenting early budgets when there were two budgets running parallel, the Government would not necessarily close the budgets as was obtained in the past, from the month of November to December.
The former Finance Minister and trained economist was also quick to point out that the Government needed to do as it said when it came to cutting costs. Jagdeo argued that while this was a constant message being spoken by President David Granger and members of his Cabinet, he was still to see this put into action, highlighting the many cases of overspending.