BY MICHAEL YOUNGE
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo today severely criticized the Peoples National Congress-led A Partnership for National and Alliance Change coalition Government decision to deny public servants and serving members of the Disciplined Services the traditional year-end bonus in addition to their salaries.
Jagdeo, speaking at a press conference held at his Church Street Office, said the fact that Government did not “see it fit” to grant these bonuses is appalling and will not doubt have an impact on not only the mood of these hard working people but also buoyancy of the economy.
He said traditionally over $2B dollars is set aside to fund the expenditure associated with year-end bonuses.
Arguing that “that makes a huge difference to people out there”, the opposition leader opined that the non-payment therefore would contribute to the rise in uncertainty among people about their financial security in the future as he referenced the thousands of people who are expected to be laid off from the East Demerara Sugar Estates later this month.
“…Spending patterns in the sugar belt have also changed because people are concerned about their ability to earn next year… And so that is a contributory factor to the bleak situation out there (in the country)”, he warned.
He held fast to the view that people’s disposable incomes and their ability to earn revenue during the busy Christmas Season could in part be affected adversely.
“As a result of this, we are seeing some sloth in the season and I do hope that the parade picks up later for the sake of vendors and others who are having a hard time…in relation to their ability to earn. And it seems to me that the issue of disposable income is affecting large groups of people who traditionally had more money to spend”.
He dismissed the Government’s argument that it was unable to grant the bonuses because of a lack of fiscal space. Jagdeo, however, told reporters that there was multimillion variance created because of the Finance Minister’s fascination with the presentation of early budgets.
“The one-month variance alone in 2016 showed an $8B dollar improvement in the fiscal accounts by January 1, 2017 because they had underestimated revenue and overestimated expenditure. And there is no doubt that 2017 will have a similar situation…and so next year when the budget is presented, you will see a massive fiscal space that the Government could have used had they been more realistic with the finances to give people their bonuses”, he remarked.