Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, drew heavy criticisms yesterday from the main opposition, People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), for his absence from the ongoing debate in the National Assembly on the 2018 budget.
Jordan who presented the budget on November 27, last, has missed the first three days of the debate due to official duties in Barbados. He returned yesterday morning to the National Assembly and is expected to close the debate today.
Former Minister of Education and PPP/C Member of Parliament, Priya Manickchand, said the absence of the Finance Minister and senior officers of the Finance Ministry, is proof that the coalition Government is just being ‘robotic’ about the budget process.
“It tells us that there is no interest in what happens here,” Manickchand stated.
According to Manickchand, the budget is bare in addressing the issues affecting Guyanese. Over the past four days of the budget debate the Finance Minister was absent and could not benefit from the presentations, which included criticisms of some of the Government’s fiscal programmes and suggestions to improve the economy.
“(He is) not even here to hear the suggestions and perhaps answer some of the criticisms. That is the arrogance we are seeing too. I don’t know if the Hansard reports would recall anywhere under the PPP that the Minister presented a budget and then escaped to a different country. In this case we have two ministers in the Ministry,” Manickchand stated.
And during her presentation, the Finance Minister walked in, as if on cue.
The former Education Minister also took aim at the coalition administration for the way in which MPs conducted the debate, noted that there should have been an important high level discussion in the Assembly by all MPs on how to move Guyanese past current challenges.
Manickchand was specially critical of Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence, who waved a bag of grass in Parliament to rebuff opposition criticisms.
“Instead of seeing that level of debate, what we saw was a calibre with senior minister of the Government taking time on taxpayers’ dollars to go and cut grass and put it in a Ziploc bag and makes that a part of their presentation.
“Such was the caliber from the government benches and that to me is disappointing and dangerous. More importantly, the check box budget really manifested itself in presentation after presentation being just as robotic and laying out a programme and a plan,” Manickchand stated.
She said that the coalition administration has failed to tell the National Assembly what is its ideology and philosophy for Guyana. She noted that a ‘green state’ is not defined by painting state property green and yellow.
Manickchand noted that the budget did not present a plan and the Government has a problem properly projecting the income of the country as evident by the exaggerated numbers presented earlier in the year. These were adjusted downwards by midyear.
She questioned whether the under-performing economy is related to homes of businessmen being raided by policemen or unstable business and political environment.
Manickchand accused the coalition administration of not being business friendly, lazy to implement several projects although approvals were granted a year ago, and there is evidently an absence by the administration to plan for a better Guyana.
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