Feb 10, 2016 News
By Abena Rockcliffe
The government was in for abundant ridicule on Monday last when Opposition Members of Parliament
took the floor of the National Assembly to speak about budgetary measures.
The criticisms were many. But perhaps most scathing were criticisms about the government’s neglect of the youth of Guyana, coming mostly from speakers like Charles Ramson Jr. and Joseph Hamilton.
Ramson told the House that he could not support a National Budget that seeks to do nothing for youths. The Member of Parliament (MP) said that it is rather unfortunate that the government plans to “increase and promote youth unemployment”.
Ramson quoted Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, who told the House last week that “apart from youth unemployment, this budget seeks to promote youth health and safety, sport and culture.”
Ramson pointed out that this is recorded on page 60 of the printed Budget Speech. The MP did not dismiss the possibility that the wording was a mistake; he said however that that is the lack of professionalism and lack of attention paid to detail that the man in the street is speaking about.
Ramson said that on the same page 60, the Finance Minister inferred that young people are not ready for leadership. “We are not worthy enough to get appointed to cabinet.”
The young lawyer also questioned why a reportedly completed National Youth Policy is yet to be taken to the National Assembly. He questioned too, “Why haven’t we (the opposition) been consulted about it? We are still the representatives of everybody in this nation just like you (the government) are. It should have been placed here.”
Ramson said that A Partnership for National Unity and the Alliance For Change only used young people to get elected to Office.
The MP charged the government, “Stop using young people to get elected. Stop using young people for our ideas and then when it comes to make the appointments you leave us out in the cold and this nation is left with a real GOG—a Government of Geriatrics.”
He said that young people were allowed to shine under the PPP.
In this regard, Ramson pointed to the fact that his comrades, Priya Manickchand, Anil Nandlall, Irfaan Ali and Bharrat Jagdeo were all given the trust of a PPP government while they were in their late 20s early 30s.
Joseph Hamilton opened his presentation saying that he spent extensive time examining the Budget in an effort to find what is in store for the average ordinary Guyanese, but found nothing. Hamilton said he saw nothing for women, nothing for people with disabilities, nothing for the poor, and nothing for the youth.
“The Budget was elusive for the ordinary people…it will make the low middle class poor and the poor, poorer.
Addressing youth and the Budget, Hamilton said that Minister Jordan only spoke about broad outlines for youth development. The MP said that a simple comparison between the Budget 2015 speech and the Budget 2016 speech will show that the government is not serious about youth development.
“Look at Budget 2015 and Budget 2016 you will see that the same language, actually the same words are used.”
The MP said that there is “no meat on the bone of the Budget for young people”.
“It does not say how much money will be invested to train youth, how many (young people) will be facilitated with startup grants and low interest loans to venture into businesses; it speaks nothing about that,” said Hamilton.
Hamilton told the government, “The young people don’t want to hear about some broad policy statement in 2016, they heard that from the government in 2015, and since then the financial circumstance has remained and, for a large majority, it has become worst since the APNU+AFC came into govt.”
Hamilton urged government Ministers to stop burying their heads in the sand and try to do something to help the youth of Guyana.
ANYTHING FOR THE POOR, THE WOMEN OR THOSE WITH DISABILITIES?
Hamilton told the House that youths are the only ones who have been ignored in Budget 2016.
According to him, the poor have also been ignored, the working class has been ignored, people with disabilities have been ignored and so were women.
Further, the MP said that the “sensible” Minister of Finance has also ignored the economic crisis.
Hamilton said that it is unfortunate that government has been unable to respond to this.
He said that the economy is in serious trouble and the problems can only be fixed by wealth-creating measures. According to Hamilton, instead of putting the needed measures in place, the government has moved to take more out of the pockets of the poor.
Also, Hamilton said that the “The Minister (Jordan) thinks he can fix the economy with fancy rhetoric believing that the masses are asses.”
The MP said that Minister Jordan’s reportage that no jobs were reported lost, reminded him of the old calypso song ‘King Liar’.
Hamilton also condemned the absence of adequate developmental measures for women in the Budget. He chided the Minister of Business for lacking measures in his Ministry to encourage women in business.
Hamilton said, “The issue of women in business and economic development was just glossed over in the budget presentation.”
The MP noted that there are no cash incentives for women in business, quite unlike what was given the previous Budgets presented by the PPP government. He said that PPP Budgets saw women being treated differently and there were often measures mentioned specifically to alleviate poverty among women.
“This budget casts women aside…shame on the government and double shame on all females in government.”
Hamilton also pointed out that there are no plans to integrate the differently-able.
He said that the government perhaps sees people with disabilities as charges on the state “only to receive state handouts.”
Hamilton said that the last census shows that of the over 75,000 persons living in Guyana, 50,000 are people with disabilities. “They should not be seen as not important, they do not want to be seen as charges on the state.”
Hamilton charged the government to put plans and projects in place to meaningfully engage person with disabilities.
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