By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh in his rebuttal and presentation to conclude the seven days of debate on the 2014 National Budget said the arguments and criticisms advanced by the members of the combined opposition is only geared towards creating unreasonable expectation in the minds of Guyanese.
He recalled urges by Opposition members for government to do among other things: double wages, cut Value Added Tax –VAT and increase pensions by a sizeable amount, all of which he said was nothing short of unreasonable and unrealistic.
The Finance Minister argued that if the government should do those things without careful consideration it will lead the economy in a direction of becoming bankrupt.
Recalling the days when Shadow Finance Minister Carl Greenidge managed the country’s finances under the PNC/R government, Dr. Singh said “we will never bankrupt Guyana at the altar of political expediency… to do the things the Opposition ask will no doubt make me a very popular man and cause my government to win any elections but we will never bankrupt Guyana like Greenidge did.”
Singh said the ultimate test is whether the country is moving in the right direction; adding that it was particularly disturbing to note that the Opposition thinks the budget caters for no one.
“I would have agreed if they had said some things can do better or in addition a few more could be done… and honestly I would like to see more done and done better but to say nothing has happened is an insult … budget 2014 is the latest installment of responsible policy by this government.”
The Minister, who boasted of development in all sectors said any attempt to stymie this growth is not serving the interest of the people of Guyana.
He said during the seven days of debate, there were a series of misrepresentations and resort to insults emanating from the Opposition’s benches, adding that when the same came from the government it was deemed to be arrogant or cussing out the Opposition. Singh argued that the Opposition must not be allowed to feel as though it has a monopoly on the right to criticize.
He recalled several statements made during the debates that he did not find favour in, rejecting them as he went along, some of which resulted in much uproar in the House.
The Finance Minister said the Opposition in its hurry to illustrate its hunger for political power crossed every boundary of decency and abandoned principle as it descended to personal attacks. He rejected the claim that himself and his budget team was tired and that there were parallel treasuries.
Singh told the House that the administration is well on its way to deliver on all its promises and even some made by the Opposition in their 2011 manifestos.
“We will not be distracted from delivering on promises and where find commendable Opposition promises, we will deliver those too because we are a listening and caring government.”
He concluded that the Opposition throughout the debate has sent mixed signals but says he trust that they will use the coming hours available to have a look at their manifesto and what promised since some of those promises are contained in the document.
“We will approach the estimates in good faith, we have no problem answering any questions asked, we can withstand scrutiny and never shy away from a question in the National Assembly.”
Singh said he hopes the Opposition sees the merit in his proposed estimates and vote resoundingly.
The consideration of estimates begins tomorrow. The Budget was presented to the National Assembly on March 24.