In wrapping up the budget debate in Parliament, Minister of Finance Ashni Singh was arrogant, rude and insulting to the opposition, especially AFC member Moses Nagamootoo and APNU shadow finance minister Carl Greenidge, the very group of people he depends on to pass the budget. The minister did not only muddy the waters, but destroyed all hope of getting his budget through Parliament.
After listening to the bombastic presentations of Ms Gail Teixeira and several others in the PPP, it is clear that the government wants to dictate to the majority opposition and the people of Guyana that they are the only ones who know what is good for the country. This was evidenced in the budget speeches in Parliament by several members of the PPP regime.
The mindset of this PPP regime, especially Ms Teixeira on the budget is very troubling if not deceitful, and could eventually lead to the bankruptcy of Guyana all over again. The same things that this inept and corrupt regime criticized the PNC for in the ’70s and ’80s are happening all over again. It is clear they regard the building of the Marriott Hotel when the hotel occupancy rate in the country is at 50% is good for Guyana.
The denial of the right of Guyanese workers to work on the Marriott Hotel is good for Guyana. The $30 billion expansion of the airport after spending $6 billion a few years ago to renovate it is good for Guyana. The impending bankruptcy of NIS, and the near collapse of the health and education sectors are good for Guyana. Runaway corruption, incessant crime and the never-ending illegal trafficking of narcotics and humans are good for Guyana.
The US$200 million white elephant Skeldon sugar factory that is operating at 50% of its capacity is good for Guyana. Paying pensioners $10,000 per month while giving Jagdeo a pension package equivalent to $3 million a month is good for Guyana. The above is what the uncaring and reckless PPP regime has called good governance.
As much as we are inclined to commend the opposition on its presentation on the budget in Parliament, we will reserve comment until the Committee of Supply meets and the opposition gets a chance to scrutinize every line item in the budget and makes its recommendations for the cuts it intends to institute. We urged the opposition to demand the establishment of the Procurement Commission and that all public monies be placed in the Consolidated Fund. This is one of the ways to end or reduce corruption and for the PPP regime to be accountable to the people. For, as they say, the devil is in the details.
Further, the failure of the regime to present a working class budget that benefits all the people and not only the wealthy does not inspire confidence in the people of its ability to accomplish anything worthy for the poor and the downtrodden. The consequence of such colossal failure has been a sliding domestic currency and, worse, low consumer confidence and the people’s lack of trust of the regime. Further, the administration has shown its inability, if not ineptitude, in explaining its economic strategies and fiscal policies to the Guyanese people and mobilizing them around its economic development programmes.
There is consensus that the crux of Guyana’s economic and social problems is the lack of jobs for the youths and its huge debt, built up by the PPP government which borrowed excessively to finance its shoddy capital works programmes rather than live within its means. There are serious signs of trouble in the making and the opposition must take a strong stance against a budget that caters mostly to the rich and not the poor. Opposition Leader Granger is quite correct to label the budget “a cardboard budget painted to look like concrete.” We have concluded that this anti-working class and insensitive PPP regime cannot have its cake and eat it.
Harish S Singh