Apr 04, 2013 News
Government parliamentarians are appealing for an end to political pettiness which can create a sense of panic and fear in the minds of the international community with regards to Guyana’s viability as an investment destination.
Delivering their contribution on the opening day of the parliamentary debate on the 2013 national budget, at least two Government
members, Rev. Kwame Gilbert and Dr. Vindhiya Persaud, both called for the opposition to be responsible in their actions which they said could derail the development of Guyana.
Gilbert described the current budget debates as a battle, while Persaud urged that the Opposition’s slim majority should not be used as bragging rights.
According to Gilbert, while the nation expects the opposition to hold the government accountable and to hold their feet over the fire, they also expect the Opposition to be reasonable and responsible.
It appeared to be a direct reference to recent Opposition posturing, which points to the possibility of targeted cuts to the $205B budget that was presented last week by Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh.
Last year, the opposition with its one seat majority slashed significant portions of the budget, which led the government to move to the High Court for its restoration.
However, the damage was already done and already this year there are indications that more cuts are imminent.
Gilbert defended the 2013 budget as pro- poor, pro-youth, pro-development and pro-Guyanese.
He said that he expects the Opposition to be very vociferous in their objections as they attempt to counter the arguments that will be advanced by the government.
“People expect the Opposition to do exactly that; they expect the opposition to hold the government accountable; they expect the Opposition to haul the government over the coals and hold their feet over the fire. But people also expect the Opposition to be reasonable and responsible. People also expect the Opposition to know when political posturing should end and when working in the national interest should begin,” Gilbert told the National Assembly.
He said that he does not believe that the consideration of national estimates is an occasion for politicking, since it is a deliberate determination of the destiny of the people of Guyana.
Gilbert said that he is optimistic that the Opposition will, in the interests of development, give their wholehearted support to the passage of the budget.
He said that his optimism is based on the fact that the 2013 budget comes on the shoulders of previous budgets that had laid the foundation for Guyana’s consistent and sustained growth and development.
“Sometimes we deliberately ignore the strides that we have made; undervalue, undersell the developments that we have accomplished as a nation in order to make a political point, and that can be harmful to our country,” Gilbert said.
He pointed to Guyana’s sustained growth rate over the years. It is not by accident that Guyana’s economy has been insulated from the financial crisis that is plaguing the world.
He attributed this sustained growth to the prudent measures adopted by the government.
Gilbert said that it is a fact that more Guyanese have access to owning their own homes; young people now have access to loans and the national health care is the best it has been in decades.
In terms of education, Gilbert pointed to the allocation of 14 per cent of this year’s budget to the sector.
He stated that the Opposition seems to be in the habit of cutting the budget, but warned that cutting the budget will not only affect the 32 persons on the government side of the house but the entire nation.
Dr. Vindhiya Persaud noted that from all appearances the Opposition is approaching the budget with a particular mindset, which is tantamount to impeding progress.
She said that this year’s budget has responded to the changing dynamics of the local society-the widening middle class, the increasing number of young professionals, the accelerated expansion of communities through the highly successful housing drive- and works towards alleviating the burdens of the poor.
She said that this budget should not see a repeat of 2012 when cuts were made acrimoniously with little regard to what she termed long term and far reaching impact that it had on lives of young people, women, children, the elderly and the indigenous people.
“We are Parliamentarians, yes, but we should be humanitarians first,” she added.
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