Time now to negotiate for Supplementary Funds
…Budget cuts meant to send strong message to Govt.–David Granger
Pull Quote: “It was always to make the PPP/C administration understand that it had no alternative but to take decisive action to bring executive lawlessness to an end.”
The $192.88B Budget as was presented to the nation at the end of March, “if left unchanged, would have
had catastrophic consequences for the entire nation for years to come.”
This was the position of the leader of the Parliamentary Opposition Brigadier (rtd) David Granger when he responded to a State of the Nation Address by Head of State Donald Ramotar who called the actions of the opposition when it recently gutted $21B out of the budget, “callous and heartless.”
Brigadier Granger, in firing back at the President, said that the Combined Opposition “acted correctly in making cuts to the budget.”
According to the Leader of the Parliamentary Opposition it is now up to the ruling administration to introduce the reasonable reforms that have been demanded.
He said that it is now time for the Government to return to the negotiating table and to collaborate with the Opposition to introduce an agreed Supplementary Budget “which gives the Guyanese people the good life that they deserve.”
The Opposition Leader in his address to the nation said that the ruling People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) can no longer pretend that it speaks for the majority as it now constitutes a parliamentary minority.
“It can no longer claim that it alone has all the answers to the questions of national development…It can no longer expect that its proposed Budget–which it prepared without the involvement of the majority – could be approved by the National Assembly without being amended.”
He said that the Budget, “if it is to be of any value, must be a tool to assure the people – ordinary farmers, nurses, students, teachers, managers, workers in the public and private sectors – that their livelihood will be safeguarded…It must convince the people that they have a stake in the futu
re of this country…It must encourage people to have confidence in the country and it must provide the funds and resources to do so.”
Granger was adamant that the PPP/C actually resisted measures to alleviate poverty and reduce the cost-of-living – such as lowering the Value-added Tax – as proposed by the APNU-AFC Opposition.
“The PPPC failed to understand the damage that has been done to the lives of young people who cannot find jobs largely because of the faulty education system.”
The Brigadier said that PPP/C failed to understand that citizens feel deprived and discriminated against by being denied their constitutional right to freedom of expression and freedom to communicate and to receive ideas and information.
The Opposition Leader said that the Budget as presented by the Finance Minister, did not even try to encourage the people themselves – through measures to alleviate poverty, reduce the burdensome cost-of-living, increase jobs, improve education and enhance human safety – to support the plan.
“The Opposition decided, therefore, that it could not support the Budget in its proposed form and proposed certain reductions.”
He said that the combined opposition parties realised from the time of the presentation of the Budget that the PPPC administration had made a big mistake.
“It was clear that the proposed Budget was badly out-of-touch with the reality of the actual needs of the people and the conditions in the country.”
He sought to explain that the aim of the reductions in financial allocations was never to obstruct the employment of state employees or to terminate programmes that concerned the education or well-being of citizens, either in the hinterland or on the coastland.
“It was always to make the PPP/C administration understand that it had no alternative but to take decisive action to bring executive lawlessness to an end.”
Granger said that the PPP/C had to accept that, in a parliamentary democracy, it had to respect the will of parliament.
“This meant behaving in a more accountable, efficient, transparent and financially prudent manner than it did since 1992…The APNU/AFC Opposition, in this regard, was always available to meet with the PPPC side to recommend amendments.”
He said that the Budget is complex and necessitated real consultation and collaboration especially after the events and eventualities of 28th November 2011.
Granger said that the combined opposition had an obligation to help to avoid the threat of damage likely to be caused by a flawed budget, hence the cuts.
“It did not seek special political favours from the administration but acted only in the public interest.”
Speaking to the Extra-Parliamentary Budget talks that were held at Office of the President, Granger called it “an exasperating experience…The PPPC side refused to make significant changes.”
He said that the Opposition made it clear that the people did not see a Budget that offered new options for escaping from poverty.
“The people did not see new opportunities for pursuing higher education and new prospect for jobs…What they saw was a future in which they will be worse off, rather than better off, if Budget 2012 was allowed to remain unaltered.”
He said that Guyana expects that the PPP/C administration will grasp the opportunity provided by the reductions made to the Budget by the Opposition to better understand what the people want, “The public will cannot be ignored.”