Govt has ‘missed the bus’ where Green State agenda is concerned- Jagdeo

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Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

While the general concept of a green state would see emphasis being placed on earning revenues for a country, catalysing different kinds of investments and other initiatives, the David Granger-led Government is placing focus on spending finances and incurring costs to the State using taxpayers’ money.

Outlining Government’s  ‘Green State’ position as absurd, General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Dr Bharrat Jagdeo said that they “missed the bus” entirely on this issue, as he referred to Finance Minister Winston Jordan’s 2019 Budget speech, which stated measures to support the Green State agenda.

These include waiving import duties and Value Added Tax (VAT) on new equipment and changing the wear and tear schedule of the Income Tax Act to allow for the write-off of capital expenses within two years.

Also, the Government hopes to amend the Customs Act to include relief from customs duty for cars with a capacity equivalent to 2000 cc in watts; the first schedule of the Customs Act and Schedule 2 of the VAT Act to exempt change-over kits and waive the Excise Tax on all-electric motorcycles.

But Jagdeo said the coalition Government was still finding it hard to accept the fact that the PPP/Civic’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) was a sound initiative.
“They cannot embrace it now … The LCDS was a framework intended to map the path of a new growth trajectory in a non-polluting way.”

The Opposition Leader also reminded that the Green State Development Strategy would only put pressure on the treasury, and if his party was returned to office, it would be automatically scrapped.

“It will add cost. I disagree with its fundamental premise. The premise which brings cost to the country versus earning money for the country … The LCDS was an economic strategy. It earned money for Guyana. Their strategy is so far about expenditure from our treasury. That is why we disagree with it.”

Jagdeo, the mastermind of the LCDS, which secured him international recognition and led to him being conferred with the “Champion of the Earth” award by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said that under the LCDS, there were specific areas that were targeted for development purposes across Guyana.

“We said we are going to spend US$10.5 million on Amerindian land titling. It solved a problem. Two, we will spend US$17 million on ICT (Information Communication Technology) in the hinterland. We would spend x amount of money like US$80 million on the hydropower by buying down equity,” he explained.

Further, the Opposition Leader added that there were also plans to create a centre for biodiversity studies and establish an adaptation plan. “We searched into crops that were flood and bug resistant. We set aside money for small loans and grants too to individuals in various sectors. It was about 20 initiatives and we were earning money doing that, we weren’t taking money from taxpayers’ money.”

As such, the former Head of State argued that the Green Strategy was more about cost to the Guyanese public. “Right now, they are talking about planting trees and all of that. They missed the whole point that that was an economic strategy to adjust to the future. That’s why conceptually, we have a major difference,” he added.

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