Opposition Member of Parliament Irfaan Ali kick-started the 2019 Budget debate in the National Assembly on Monday declaring that Finance Minister Winston Jordan is providing inflated estimates aimed at providing Guyanese with an imaginary good life.
Ali voiced his displeasure over Jordan’s $300.7 Billion 2019 budget, saying the presentation was sugar coated fluff and bluff, noting further that 63 per cent of voters signaled that they cannot be fooled by what he deemed was Government’s inability to improve their lives.
Ali, the Opposition’s point man on finance, said that Government’s budget was poorly forecasted with no measures to aid the ailing economy, saying that it was riddled with wasteful spending on items such as $5.9 billion on dietary and almost billions more for accumulated expenditure on other refreshment and meals, local travel and security for ministers.
The Public Accounts Committee Chairman also highlighted procurement breaches such as the single sourced $150M contract for the new Demerara River Crossing feasibility study and S1.1B spent on the Durban Park project.
Ali said that this year’s budget saw little or no significant allocations for youth and at risk groups such as single parent mothers.
He in fact feels that this year’s budget was crafted to give an inaccurate impression of the improved standard of living Guyanese were expecting.
Meanwhile, in a candid assessment, Audit firm Ram and McRae called out the recently presented 2019 budget for having little to no provisions for the poor, women and gender issues, and other critical matters like the Berbice Bridge, now headed to court after a Government takeover.
In its annual publication of Budget Focus, the firm, founded by anti-corruption advocate Christopher Ram, acknowledged the provisions in the budget for people with disabilities, the employed and self-employed, and Finance Minister Winston Jordan’s stamina for having presented the almost-five-hour-long budget speech uninterrupted.
According to the firm, however, the budget “is silent on women and gender issues; single mothers; the unemployed, including the recently unemployed; the National Insurance Scheme, and the Berbice Bridge which the Government took over earlier this month.”
“These inevitably lead us to conclude, as we did last year, that this Administration does not seem to regard income and wealth inequality as serious issues; and accordingly there is nothing in the Budget that could be considered a pro-poor step,” the firm stated.