Mar 25, 2014 News
– Allocations for GuySuCo, Specialty Hospital and Amaila Hydro Project will not be approved-Greenidge
By Kiana Wilburg
The political opposition was grossly disappointed yesterday when the $220B budget was presented by Minister of Finance Dr. Ashni Singh in the National Assembly. As such, they have already stated that the budget will be significantly modified.
The 2014 budget which turned out to be the largest budget to be laid in the Parliament by Dr. Singh was deemed the worse when compared to last year’s. This was according to A Partnership for National Unity’s (APNU) Shadow Minister of Finance, Carl Greenidge.
Greenidge said that his comment was grounded in the fact that this year’s budget, among other critical deficiencies, provided no solid plan for the improvement of the poor and homeless. “The plan for the poor is nothing but a joke.” He then stressed that the coalition will not approve the budget as presented and that it will be “drastically amended.”
The Members of the Alliance For Change (AFC) absented themselves from the presentation. The AFC made clear by way of a notification yesterday that it would not be present at the reading of the 2014 budget since it was not a part of the consultations.
The missive explained that the action was a representation of its protest against the violation of the Constitution by the government in not holding meaningful consultations with the opposition considering that it had the time to do so.
Leader of the AFC, Khemraj Ramjattan said that he was privy to a large portion of the budget. He said that his party will not approve certain parts of the budget. Rather, it will join with the members of the APNU to amend certain parts of the budget.
“I believe that (the budget) does not have any plan for the improvement of the lives of the poor and it could have been better had the opposition been consulted. The budget will pose a lot of challenges and it will see the non-approval of very many line items.”
APNU Leader, Brig. David Granger also shot down the budget. He described it as one that does not aim at development but is rather one geared towards repair and maintenance.
“It does not substantially affect the lives of the poor people. It does not indicate that it will improve jobs for the poor people and I don’t think the measures there could relieve poverty… I feel the budget is divorced from reality.”
Commenting on the Old Age pension, Granger said that his coalition was hoping for $15,000 per month. “That was our target. But what might sound ok for Georgetown may not be good for people in the hinterlands who have to come down to collect their pensions.”
The APNU Leader said that when one considers the distance some residents of the Hinterland Region have to travel and the cost of living, it is a different reality; the five percent increase is not going to change their lives.
Jaipaul Sharma, one of the financial experts of the APNU said that it is the most unrealistic budget he has ever heard.
“The budget is $220.047B. The total revenue estimated to be collected is $207.272 B which will give u a short fall of $12.775B. The revenue in my estimation is unrealistic and the evidence is right there in the estimates… when you compare what was estimated in the 2013 budget from what was actually collected, the shortfall was very great.
“I feel the budget has too large a deficit. It’s a budget to impress the people with a set of goodies and a lot of plans but it cannot deliver.”
Greenidge said that for all this enormous growth, which seemed to have occurred when Dr. Singh came into office in 2006, he still failed to address issues such as infant mortality, migration, unemployment and suicide in Guyana.
While Greenidge made it pellucid that any allocation made for the Amaila Falls Hydro Project will not see the opposition’s approval, he did elaborate on his concerns for other areas of the budget which will be amended.
$910M allocated for Specialty Hospital
“As far as I am concerned that has absolutely nowhere to go and I am not the only one who shares that view. I wish to emphasize to the public that this whole issue of the Hospital is a con. It is what is commonly known as a confidence trick. The government and its spokesmen and even some of our own have made it seem as though it will be filling a niche in the health care supply system.
“The hospital is meant to be a private hospital and the infrastructure is meant to be funded by the Indian government by way of a line of credit. It shouldn’t be having money from the government of Guyana. It is not geared to provide services to us and even a more grave concern is that it is not geared to use Guyanese skills by way of the doctors.”
$6B allocated for GuySuco
The politician added that he will not be supporting the $6B allocated for the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo). And as such that is an area that will be amended.
“We have begged the government to set up a Commission to take a better look at the industry and its deficiencies but they have not listened. The Minister has the arrogance today (yesterday) that in proof of their support and commitment to sugar they will ask for $6B.
“If they were that supportive of the industry then they would have ensured that the issues affecting the company would have been dealt with instead of coming for subsidies to bail it out.”
$6.9B allocated for Drainage and Irrigation
The APNU Member said that the government continues to fail to recognize that this area needs regular maintenance and not, “a quick fix during emergencies.”
“We are spending significant amounts on drainage and every year we get floods that are worse that the years before. The government then awards projects on a last minute basis and in the end taxpayers are being called upon to foot the bill.
Dr. Singh failed to say why this money he is asking for will make a difference in the improvement of the situation. He should also say where the Surendra pumps are. We are not going to approve this.”
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