By Jomo Paul
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Former Junior Finance Minister Bishop Juan Edghill is alleging that the new APNU+AFC government has failed to appropriately budget for the increases in old age pension and public assistance in the 2015 Budget presented by Finance Minister.
Edghill raised the issue in the National Assembly on Wednesday, August 26 where he pointed out that no significant increases to the allocation for old age pensions were made in the 2015 Budget.
iNews understands that in aggregated form, there was only an increase of $185M to the allocation for old age pensions from $7,895,554 in 2014 to $8,085,442 in the 2015 Budget.
Edghill explained that while there was an increase in the pension allocations in one line, this was not old age pension but rather the pension of government workers that was increased in conjunction with the increase of salaries for public servants.
Considering that there are 43,500 persons benefiting from old age pension in Guyana, Edghill told media operatives that “if you only have an increase in the total appropriation of $186M how will you find the money to fund the increase for the remainder of the year?…this must be either corrected or explained.”
He said that based on the figures, pensioners are not guaranteed the amount of money that they were promised in the 2015 Budget.
“We have been making the point…this budget is flawed, it is filled with flaws and every time we point it out…we are met with arrogance,” the Former Junior Finance Minister stated.
Social Protection Minister Volda Lawrence assured the House that the allocations were catered for by the Ministry of Finance at the estimated amount of beneficiaries. The government had proposed an old age pension increase from $13,125 to $17,000 in accordance with an elections plan.
The Budget currently being deliberated in the National Assembly would cater for a four month period. Independent calculations show that the Ministry would dole out $739.5M per month on old age pensions. For the four month period, the government would need $2,958,000,000 to properly fund the old age pension scheme.
The Budgeted amount of $8,085,442 was approved by the government controlled National Assembly.