What the people say about… The 2009 budget

By Sara Bharrat with
photos by Jules Gibson

20090223soniaSonia Nedd, Self-employed: ‘I am very disappointed in the budget because they were supposed to give the people back pay and they haven’t. Based on what I’ve read and listened to so far I am not pleased about how they have been allocating funds. This budget is leaving people to wonder what they will eat for the rest of this year. I recall hearing or reading news coverage that the Value Added Tax regime had made more than 20% over their projected target. Well, seeing that they did that I think they should’ve been able to reduce that tax a little. Pensioners should have also gotten more. The money they are getting monthly isn’t enough. I would panic if in my old age I’d have to depend on that pension as my sole source of financial support.’

20090223sunitaSunita Singh, Businesswoman:
‘I haven’t been following the budget. I am not interested in it because at the end of the day I believe that we will still be in the same position.  Yes, they are debating the budget but when all of that is finished we will still have to live with the decisions that are made by the parliamentarians whether we like them or not. I remember whilst growing up my little sister didn’t know what the budget was and she asked whether it was a man or woman. Believe it or not there are still many people living in rural areas who don’t have a clue what the budget is and what it is supposed to do.’

20090223christopherChristopher Thompson, Private Sector Employee: ‘To be honest with you I’ve been following the budget. With regard to the speech by the Minister of Finance, I was expecting him to provide more precise evidence of public accountability. I didn’t hear him mention anything about the role of the private sector on matters of private and public accountability either knowing that the private sector is the engine of growth in our economy. I am not satisfied with what has been mentioned about our gross domestic product thus far. As for the debating of the budget that is more like quarreling. Basically I am not satisfied with this budget.’

20090223sharonSharon Bryan, Private Sector Employee: ‘Actually I haven’t read an in depth analysis or any extensive coverage of this year’s budget as yet. However, I know that the income tax threshold has seen no increase and this is the reason I haven’t really been interested in following the budget this year. Given the state of the economy all workers would have been expecting an economic bounce.’

20090223bishopA.F. Bishop, Accountant: ‘I think that based on the situation in Guyana the budget might be very workable to the public. There are some little flaws that I have noticed in the budget and during the debates there have been many objections but I still believe that much planning and forethought was injected in the 2009 budget and it  has been tailored as best as possible to suit the present situation of our economy. Let’s take the strongest country in the world as our example, Obama had asked for more than US$800 billion but didn’t get it. The reason Obama asked for that money is because he had seen that something was wrong with the economic situation in America and he wanted to aid the people in getting out of the economic struggle. Here in Guyana we are facing the same situation where the economy is not progressing and the cost of living is way beyond our limits. Sometimes injecting a little more money here and there in the economy can really make a difference and I really do believe the budget is workable.’

20090223colinColin Sumner, Electrician:
‘Haven’t been paying much attention to this budget because quietly frankly I am working very hard to keep my head above the water and don’t have the time. However, given the crime situation last year and the recent string of murders this month I will be looking at what has been allocated to the security sector. I think at this point, even though our economy isn’t at its best, security is the most important area to be concentrated on.’

20090223kevonKevon Campbell, Student: ‘I have not been following the budget and to tell you the truth I’m not so bothered by it at this time because I am more concerned about my upcoming exams. However, I think people of my age group should be the ones following the budget more diligently because they are the ones who will be directly affected by it in the long run.’

20090223melissaMelissa Harlequin, Banker: ‘Since I found out that the income tax threshold hadn’t been increased I haven’t been paying much attention to the budget. I was half expecting that anyway. Sometimes it’s easy to tell what they’ll say and what they have in store for us.’

20090223terrenceTerrence Houston, Security: ‘Work, work, work and more work that’s what we Guyanese have to do to stay alive. So where will we find the time to follow the budget coverage? Thus far I haven’t heard anything that will directly benefit me and other middle class people. Value added tax is something that should have been decreased. At the end of all this fuss over the debate we will continue going downhill. The poor in Guyana will get poorer and many people will have days when they don’t know where they will get food.’

20090223julietJuliet Ruplal, Private Sector Employee: ‘Cost of living has been killing us and I was very disappointed that the income tax threshold was not increased. I am one of those who would follow the budget because it is important to know where my tax money is going. I am very disappointed that there has been no decrease in the value added tax and I am closely following what is happening in the area of security. I believe that is an area we should invest heavily in because of the recent rise in violence against women.’

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