By Kristen Macklingam
Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, has rubbished the $230B budget the Government presented this afternoon as being “blatantly anti-poor and anti-development” and predicts it will “not make any difference” in the lives of a majority of Guyanese.
“So blatant… this budget is anti-development, anti-poor and will not achieve its outcome,” the former President declared at a news conference he hosted immediately after Finance Minister Winston Jordan presented his budget in the National Assembly.
Dr Jagdeo said the increase, for instance, which the APNU+AFC government has awarded pensioners this year cannot substitute for the loss of electricity and water subsidies which the coalition is responsible for taking away from them.
In fact, according to the former President, Guyanese are bound to be much confused about the budget and what it really has in store for them, which is nothing but “a lot of repackaging”.
Jagdeo was blunt in his declaration: “This year’s budget will not help any poor person in this country.”
Regardless of the fact that there is an increase, though small, in the income tax threshold, the amount which the administration has catered for will “not make any difference in anyone’s lives”, he said.
According to Dr Jagdeo, the Government has also failed to include increases in the wages and salaries of employees in the country and this absence in the budget for 2016 speaks volumes.
He further stated that with regards to Guyana’s productive sectors there is much left to be offered to the country and its citizens.
“In the rice sector we heard one sentence from the Minister of Finance; in the sugar industry he said they are putting in nine billion dollars in subsidy although the Prime Minister in New York had announced that the budget would have $12B and he (Minister of Finance) said it will be $9B…in mining there were no measures to assist the mining sector, not a single budgetary measure…,” the Opposition Leader pointed out.
According to him, the Finance Minister spoke about increased production this year and two new gold mines which “came into being” but argued that both of these mines were projects which were developed under the former PPP/C administration.
“So nothing for mining, nothing really for sugar, in fact he is giving less than what the (GuySuCo) Commission of Inquiry (CoI) suggested and what the Prime Minister said the budget would have. Nothing for the rice industry, very little for any other sector of the economy, nothing for construction, nothing for manufacturing, very little for tourism…,” the former President and Moscow-trained Economist declared.
The media was told that the primary tool of the Finance Minister in ensuring that more visitors come to Guyana is the cleanup of the city.
Dr Jagdeo noted that his Party is yet to see any measure in the 2016 budget presented by this government that will stimulate production in the productive sector for the country.
He also opined that if he were to consider this year’s budget and the impact it would have on society while changing the lives of many in a positive way he would say “the good life cannot start with this budget” since persons are having a retrogression in their lives and their benefits.
Jagdeo also said that the budget contains “a lot of repackaging”.
He contended that although the Finance Minister mentioned developmental projects in the 2016 budget presentation for the East Coast Demerara roadway, another road project for the Parika, East Bank Essequibo (EBE) to Vreed-en-Hoop West Coast Demerara (WCD) area and more, all of these initiatives and projects had commenced under the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) government.
According to the Opposition Leader, the APNU+AFC coalition government would have been “better off” had they held dialogue with the Opposition Party so that the former administration could have been able to apprise the current government of where the country “would be heading.”