APNU member and new parliamentarian Ronald Bulkan has signalled that the national budget will have to undergo serious cuts to eliminate spending.
“Regarding the budget, it will have to be reworked. We will have to bring out the scissors to excise inappropriate spending and cut out waste,” Bulkan said during the budget debate on Wednesday “We have to get real…get serious. No more taxing and spending with reckless abandon,” he added.
According to him, it would have been better had consensus been sought on the budget before it came to the National Assembly, even within the context of a majority opposition having the power to recommend and to agree to recommendations or to reject outright individual measures.
“After all Madam Speaker, a majority of voters at the last elections voted for us on this side of the House. Prudence as well as the democratic principles… ought to have compelled [the Government] to have meaningful consultation on deciding and determining national priorities. [That] government chose not to do so Madam Speaker is ill-advised,” he said.
“We were not sent here to be appendages to rubber stamp any and everything presented by the government. That status quo no longer holds. The people decided on November 28, 2011 that it must change and they have sent us here to help them out of their plight, their distress.”
Bulkan also pointed out that all through the debates, there has been no mention from the government speakers about what he described as the growing income inequality occurring in the country. “We are concerned about this sad state of affairs and we will work to correct it,” he said.
‘Undermining local democracy’
He also called out the government on undermining the independence of local democratic organs. He said that the constitutional requirements are not being honoured with regard to the management of administrative regions. “The phenomenon to which I refer is the continuing control being exercised by Central Government through the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development and via the Regional Executive Officers that they appoint,” he explained.
“These REOs operate like tin gods and the farther away they are from Georgetown the more out of control they behave,” Bulkan said. “They are encouraged to act with impunity by the Minister who appoints them and in many as well as the majority of cases do not see it as their duty to be an officer of the RDC or the Clerk of the Council.
In other words, they see themselves as masters and not servants of the RDCs,” he said.
Bulkan added that were there to be genuine collaboration, then many of the unhealthy things taking place–such as the Supenaam stelling fiasco, the Linden Hospital deficiencies–could have been avoided.
“I might add that the campaign of the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, which seems to be in full swing, whereby elected NDCs are being dismantled and dissolved and replaced by unelected bodies called Interim Management Committees is unprincipled, undemocratic, obnoxious and offensive and the government should desist from further eroding the rights of citizens and their will expressed in democratic elections,” he said.