PPP/C Member of Parliament Dr. Jennifer Westford on Monday declared that the government’s proposed 2018 national budget will not improve the social status of Guyanese, while saying that the administration is incapable of inspiring the confidence needed to move the economy forward.
In a presentation filled with absolutes but short on references, Westford, who served as Minister of Public Service under the previous administration, argued that the proposed budget will drive the middle-class into poverty as it will have to bear the brunt of tax measures.
“The real middle-class are the ones who can’t avoid paying taxes on their salary every month, they are the ones subjected to higher prices and higher interest rate on mortgagees. They are the ones whose disposable income is being depleted on a daily basis,” she stressed to the National Assembly.
According to Westford, there is evidence of intellectual impotence on the government side of the House, which has left the national ship rudderless and without a captain to steer it out of stormy economic conditions.
“The ship is lost because the captain and sailors are also lost,” she stressed, before adding that the earlier contributions on the budget from government ministers lacked depth. The former minister argued that these presentations included neither a statement of policy nor direction; instead, she said they were repetitions of what measures were also in last year’s budget.
Referencing a section of Finance Minister Winston Jordan’s budget speech, Westford noted that Jordan should know that confidence is a variable that is difficult to measure.
Jordan had told the House that his government when elected “had to restore hope, inspire confidence and shape a new destiny for our country and our people.”
Westford, however, stated that the general view is that the APNU+AFC government will never be able to raise confidence to the level required to propel the economy and country as a whole.
“It is incumbent on government to create an environment where confidence is optimal. Confidence is tied to government not only as a result of fiscal policies but also the execution of its overall governing of the country… this government doesn’t have moral fortitude to engender the level of confidence necessary to move the economy forward. They are concerned with their ship of partners; concerned only with APNU+AFC,” She declared.
Westford further said that the proposed $267.1 billion budget is a collection of random numbers and self-praise.
Minister Jordan, she argued must walk Regent and Water streets to hear the woes of the people as they are becoming wiser and will no longer tolerate his attempts to blame the previous administration.