- Jordan chides Irfaan Ali for ‘blowing a lot of hot air’, and lacking ‘fire in his belly’ during Budget debate
‘A lot of hot air’ was the response by Finance Minister Winston Jordan to claims made by former Housing and Tourism Minister and Opposition Member of Parliament (MP), Irfaan Ali, about Guyana facing a “looming economic crisis”.
The Finance Minister said he was also very disappointed as the former minister “should know better”.
He added that, Ali “loves to wax lyrical,” adding that, “he, himself didn’t even believe what he was saying.”
According to Minister Jordan, Ali’s statements may indicate that, “It was a sign that he didn’t have much to say about the budget.”
The Finance Minister said that a statement about non-performing loans growing by 63% merely reflected a report issued by the Bank of Guyana.
“This half-year report by the Bank of Guyana will reflect the performance of the economy from January to June of last year, and those figures that he is quoting had nothing to do with this government. We would have inherited that!” he explained.
The comment, Minister Jordan opined, “may have had a lot to do with the rice sector.”
Reiterating his disappointment, the Finance Minister said that he thought that Ali, as the first Opposition speaker for the Parliamentary Budget debates, “would have come with more fire in his belly.”
The Finance Minister, according to a GINA report, restated that the projected economic growth figures for 2016 of 4.4% show clearly that there is no ‘“looming crisis. This growth, the Minister said, is the minimum that is expected this year.
FAKE PROMISE OF ‘GOOD LIFE’
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 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”.
As reported earlier by INews, 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”.