Jul 27, 2015 News
With mere weeks to go before the national budget is presented, Finance Minister Winston Jordan lashed out at the opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic, saying that they brought nothing but accusations against the government during a recent meeting to discuss the 2015 financial estimates.
This is according to Jordan who related to Kaieteur News during an interview that he found himself in a situation where he had to set the record straight on a number of allegations, particularly from PPP General Secretary, Clement Rohee.
Some of these accusations had to do with the PetroCaribe Fund being empty and witch-hunting by the Granger administration. The Finance Minister said that he addressed Rohee on each contention leveled against the government.
Jordan admitted that although he previously expressed that he is pressed for time and that it is highly unlikely that the PPP would be consulted on the 2015 budget, he nevertheless extended the invitation to them.
The PPP then said that it decided to accept the invitation having regard to “the unfortunate state of affairs obtaining in the country since the APNU+AFC assumed office.” This sentiment was communicated to Jordan by Rohee.
The Finance Minister said that when the delegation turned up at the Finance Ministry, he gave the floor to Rohee, “who started right away with accusations of how we are witch-hunting, how we are destroying the economy and how they left a good economy.”
Jordan added, “All along I waited to hear what ideas they were bringing to the table. My letter to them clearly said an exchange of ideas on the 2015 budget. But I did not hear anything about that.”
The Finance Minister said that he explained to Rohee, the framework of the budget as well as what was inherited from the previous administration.
Jordan said, “I told him what was inherited from last year in relation to rice and sugar and how the mining sector was shaping up. It is going to be a three month budget and there is nothing much which can be done now.”
He added, “They could have given ideas that could be used for the 2016 budget but I got nothing. Eventually he (Rohee) said he has to go back and consult with his party and then they will give us a response. Couple hours after they sent what appeared to be extracts of our 100-day plan.”
The Finance Minister emphasized that the entire point of the consultations on the budget was for him to learn from the opposition what they would like to see within the budget and issues they may have with the framework.
Jordan on Saturday told Kaieteur News that the exchange was not as fruitful as it could have been or was supposed to be.
He said that he nevertheless remains open to future talks and stated that the meeting at the end of the day was an opportunity to break the ice between Government and the opposition in a formal manner.
The Finance Minister said that he even suggested that both parties can have periodic consultations and not necessarily wait on an invite.
“My door is open to them for any matter on Finance or Economics. Our door is open for the opposition to bring sunlight not darkness. But we are adamant on demonstrating that we are willing to work with the opposition,” Jordan expressed.
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