Declaring that the $267.1B 2018 National Budget is “disastrous” and “pathetic”, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo said last evening that it failed to live up to the government’s promise of a good life.
“There is nothing here that inspires. Nothing that says to the private sector…to any group of Guyanese whether you are a young person, a pensioner, a child going to school, farmer or a bauxite worker or anyone working in retail trade, the public servant that `I have a better year to look forward to based on this budget’. There is absolutely nothing in it”, Jagdeo said in an initial reaction to the budget which was presented by Finance Minister Winston Jordan moments earlier.
Speaking at a press conference held at Parliament Buildings, Jagdeo said that based on what was read it was clear that the government has “lost sight” of what is important for Guyana. The budget lacked vision and supportive policies to take the country where it needs to go, he stressed while adding that pensioners and the youth were all left disappointed.
“I can say without any doubt that this is one of the most disastrous budget presentations I have ever listened to. It has failed on every standard”, he said adding that the opposition had hopes that Jordan would have addressed the key issues that people were concerned about. These issues he said include job creation, welfare, a framework for growth and development, clarity on the government’s vision in different areas and the direction the country is heading in. “We had hoped that all of these would have been part of the budget presentation this afternoon …Many of my colleagues and people across the country had low expectations. I said to them `let’s give them a chance’, but they have lived up to the low expectations people had of the government”, he said.
According to Jagdeo, a former President and Finance Minister, the proposed 2018 Budget has too much detail about the work programmes of the various ministries. Insisting that their inclusion was not necessary, Jagdeo said that youths have been left wondering whether jobs will become available while the elderly were handed a meagre $500 increase on their monthly pensions.
He stressed that from all indications the goal of the government is to collect more tax revenue. Jagdeo stated that while in office the PPP/C gave hinterland residents tax breaks on certain items that they use but now that is being reversed and will be burdensome on those persons.
He said that things Jordan described as the government’s success stories are not worth mentioning and that there were other things mentioned which are not very clear.
According to the Opposition Leader, many of the projects mentioned by Jordan were created by the PPP/C and are “now coming forward…now bearing fruit because it takes time sometimes to get these things going”. Among those projects mentioned were the Sheriff Street project, the East Bank road expansion, the East Bank Berbice road works and the airport expansion, which he said is turning out to be a disaster.
Jagdeo stressed that to put it mildly, the budget presented was “pathetic”.
He was joined by Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira and MP Juan Edghill.