Kicking off this year’s Budget debates in the National Assembly in a ‘fiery’ manner similar to last year’s showdown, former Minister of Housing and Water Irfaan Ali has slammed the Government’s budget promise of “the good life”, saying this fake promise to Guyanese is “elusive to most” and “now a reality for a selected few”.
Ali said the utilities of the “average man” were never improved since the APNU+AFC coalition took power in 2015, and this indicates that the mantra trumpeted by the Administration of “a good life” for all is simply a mirage.
The PPP/C Member of Parliament contended that, based on statistics reported, there is an erosion of the well-being of average Guyanese, gleaned from observing macro-economic indicators and supported by the fact that consumer spending in 2015 as reflected was at the lowest ever over the last four years.
He also argued that the APNU+AFC government should accept that the financial and economic system can completely collapse since there is “a crisis brewing” in this regard.
“We don’t have real growth and investment…because of the slowdown in the economy, fewer jobs were created…they (government) campaigned on job creation but only mentioned the word ‘job’ in the 2016 budget three times…there was a reduction in employment opportunities especially in the Private Sector…,” Ali told the House.
He added that when Finance Minister Winston Jordon “says no reported job loss…the Bank of Guyana half-year Report says otherwise.”
Ali, who proffer the view that the country suffered tremendously due to reduction of activities in the Mining and Construction sectors, said “the government is to blame”.
“We are in an economic quandary because of this coalition Government…,” Ali declared, while arguing that the Government cutting back on Capital spending when the economy is in a rapid decline “cannot be sound economic management” by the APNU/AFC administration.
He said the 2016 budget is one where there is “the taxation of the poor” while simultaneously “promoting special interests”.
“Where is the promise of VAT? Doubling of Old Age Pension and Public Assistance? The increase in personal Income Tax threshold to $100,000 – where has this promise gone?” Ali questioned.
He said based on the 2016 budget speech by Minister Jordan, “there is no reduction in VAT, it is not something Guyanese can expect this year or the near future…instead, Guyanese should prepare to pay more VAT.” (Kristen Macklingam)