The proposed 2018 national budget is “fundamentally flawed” and fails to address basic issues, opposition parliamentarian Gail Teixeira argued on Wednesday, while also accusing the government of “crowding out” the private sector.
Armed with statements and reports from unions and private sector organisations, Teixeira presented to the National Assembly what she called evidence that the government has not garnered the public support of “legitimate stakeholders” for the 2018 budget.
She read excerpts from documents written by groups, including the Guyana Trades Union Congress, the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association, the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) and the Ram and McRae accounting firm.
“…Unfortunately, the proof is in the pudding and the ordinary people remain downtrodden and sliding into a state of despondency. The two major and the only two workers’ federations in this country that represent all the unionised and organised workers in this country do not support this budget. The three major organisations that represent the business community have major concerns and disappointment and a lack of trust in what’s going on in this budget,” she said.
Teixeira stated that the budget fails to address the “fundamental issues,” such as reliable telecommunications, energy and road transportation.
She stated that although the government has spent hundreds of millions since entering office, Guyanese have not seen the benefits or the legacies, “other than with D’Urban Park, which is falling apart.”
Teixeira said that the government has shown disregard for income and wealth inequality as serious issues, and for that reason, does not cater for such in the
She charged that there is a “fundamental and philosophical” difference between how the APNU+AFC government and the PPP see development, while stating that the former focuses on taxation as a means of revenue production. The role of the government, she said, is to be that of enabler and facilitator.
She opined that the APNU+AFC policies have only managed to reverse the country’s fortunes by bringing an end to the sugar industry and negatively impacting the mining sector and referred to its policies as an antiquated and myopic development model of the 1970s and 1980s.
“Gods of Small Things”
Teixeira argued that the government has created an unfriendly environment for investors and accused them of “outstripping and out-crowding” the private sector by competing for loans and activities.
“…outside of crowding out the private sector, at the same time we are the gods of little things. We’re the gods of small things. So arches are lovely but you’ve gotta find jobs for people… you are not doing things that will bring activities for our people—economic activity… You’re fiddling and diddling in the economy. You’re not pushing this economy to stimulate it. You’re competing with the private sector,” she stated.
On the point of social cohesion, which the government has touted as part of its mandate, Teixeira pointed out that there is a disparity in the appointments of employees on government and state boards, with Afro-Guyanese dominating.
She stated that although there are claims that the government is pushing for inclusion and social cohesion, it appears to be ignoring the diversity of the nation. “…The government has to recognise that it’s standing on quicksand… so it’s a government with less than 1% difference in the votes… and further it controls only three of the 10 [Regional Democratic Councils] and less than 35% of the local authorities. Maybe that is why they’re so insecure and have to paint state properties in their party colours to brand Guyana PNC Guyana,” Teixeira stated, following the reading of the opinion pieces on the budget.
“…you do not control the base of this country and therefore, your disregard to the majority of viewers in this country, or any initiative, or any proposal including this budget is an indication that you are moving in an authoritarian direction, that you don’t wish to involve the people, you do not reflect the diversity of our nation and government on any public level, and that in fact you’re becoming more insulated and alienated from the people, including your own supporters,” she said.