Collision on budget imminent unless engagement is meaningful – Granger

Leader of the Opposition David Granger has put government on notice that there will be a collision on the next budget unless the Donald Ramotar administration is prepared to meet and have meaningful discussions.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition, Granger said, “I do believe that if we do not get a favourable res-ponse from the government there will be another collision, and we are quite prepared for that.”

Work on the budget began in July and Finance Minister Ashni Singh has since invited both APNU and the AFC to take part in consultations.

Asked whether his comments about not being optimistic about the government’s treatment of the opposition leading up to the budget are harmful to the talks, he said the failure of the government to set up a tripartite budget committee is what is harmful.

Asked to reveal some of what the party expects to discuss in the budget talks, Granger said, “I am not going to discuss the memorandum that we sent to the Minister of Finance at this point in time because this is now being discussed by the APNU shadow cabinet and it will compromise our own discussions. But I would like to say that we are concerned about the funding for the University of Guyana and second we are concerned about the state of the primary schools which is evident in the National Grade Six Examinations. We are concerned about the Cyril Potter College of Educa-tion,” he said. “These are the issues [in the education sector] that we will be considering in our budget discussions,” he added.

He noted that expenditure has increased but on the ground the schools still need changes. “The environments are simply hostile to these young people,” he said.

Asked how different would be the agenda for budget discussion with government, Granger said not much different as none of the issues raised last year was addressed. “A lot of what we had on the table last year will be repeated this year but there will be a greater focus on education now because of the breakdown that we have been seeing across the country,” he explained.

“The evidence of the breakdown is in the poor results this year,” he said, referring to the National Grade Six Assessment and calling it the end result of the primary school process.

“We are linking the poor conditions that we saw in the month of September at Port Kaituma, at Mahdia, at Salem, [and] at Parfait Harmonie. Our budget contribution will be designed to turn the tide in primary education,” he said.

Granger said that in many instances the money is allocated in adequate amounts but the management leaves much to be desired. “It did not seem as though there was not enough money, but that the preparation in July and August [was inadequate] so that when the academic year starts things are in place,” he said.

“We want to make sure that the management system is such that we are not faced with this shambles every year,” he added.

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