Better spending on education, lower VAT among AFC’s budget proposals

The AFC has outlined its budget proposals in a letter to Minister of Finance Dr Ashni Singh including urging greater economic diversification and making education spending more relevant to a school curriculum that is designed to meet the developmental needs of Guyana.

The party also urged the reduction of the Value Added Tax (VAT), lowering of the Berbice River Bridge toll and reduction of vehicle duties and taxes, while advocating for increases in old age pensions and the wages and salaries of public servants.

In a press release, the AFC said that its suggestions for inclusion in the 2013 budget are based on the AFC’s position that fundamental to Guyana’s development is the “growth of a diversified economy capable of creating significantly better employment opportunities for our younger citizens than currently exist.”

The statement said that in the letter to the minister, the AFC noted that in keeping with national priorities, and given the fact that 85% of Guyana’s foreign earnings still derive from the export of the same primary products which the country has been relying on since independence, specific budgetary measures must be taken to achieve greater economic diversification and make education spending more relevant to a school curriculum that is designed to meet the developmental needs of Guyana.

“In the letter, the AFC acknowledged that it is the government’s role to prepare and propose the national budget and the party does not seek to interfere with this process. However, as a political party with a growing constituency it will ensure that the needs and interests of its constituents are not ignored in the preparation of the 2013 budget,” the statement said.

Specifically, the AFC proposed that the VAT  be reduced, the Berbice Bridge tolls lowered, vehicle duties and taxes reduced, as well as zero taxes on all electric cars and for wages and salaries of public servants to be increased by 10% across the board while old age pension is increased to $15,000.

The party also said that the subvention to the Critchlow Labour College should be restored, while urging that lottery funds and NICIL funds be paid into the Consolidated Fund along with monies held in all special bank accounts as recommended by the Auditor General in his 2011 report. The party also urged that the Region Eight council’s approved budget for 2013 be considered in place of REO’s submissions. It also proposed that budget estimates be placed online.

“The letter reiterated the AFC’s concern with the non-establishment of the Public Procurement Commission, the blatant misuse of state media and the illegal activities of NICIL. The AFC considers these to be impediments to constructive engagement on the 2013 budget,” the statement said. “The AFC is open to discussing the issues related to the 2013 budget with the minister of finance and his representatives,” it added.

On Wednesday, leaders of the AFC and APNU said that by yesterday they would have submitted proposals for inclusion into the 2013 budget to government, but expressed doubts that their ideas would see the light of day.

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