FITUG highlights alarming cost of running APNU+AFC Govt.
By Kiana Wilburg
The Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) is alarmed by how much it is costing taxpayers to support the administration of the APNU+AFC government. To support its case, it cited the findings of a report prepared by the Guyana Budget and Policy Institute in relation to the 2018 Budget.
That report says, “…more than $12 billion of the $17 billion in new tax revenues [went] to shore up the government bureaucracy instead of better aligning public investments with social and economic needs. The total cost of running the government increased by 29% for a total of $54 billion, the second largest share (20%) of the total budget.”
The document went further to say: “…the budget cuts the investment to improve the country’s poor and aged infrastructure by 8%. Likewise, it cuts the investment in the agriculture sector for the third consecutive year by 7%. These cuts will hurt agriculture and infrastructure labourers, most of whom are low-skilled workers from low-income households. Moreover, unemployed and displaced workers from the closure of multiple sugar estates and those subject to private-sector payroll cuts are unlikely to find gainful employment in these sectors.”
FITUG said that clearly, this is a less than pleasing situation, as such; it wants the Government to give serious attention to re-aligning its expenditure with the needs of the country.
As bothersome as those facts are, FITUG said that the frightening increases in tax revenues tell a worrying tale and illustrate how much taxes have eaten into workers’ income in spite of across-the-board imposed increases which have been awarded over the last few years.
The Union said that clearly, the increases awarded have to some extent been eaten away by the taxation. On this matter, it called on the government to consider, in view of the developments, a few changes to the tax regime.
MOST EXPENSIVE GOVT.
FITUG would not be the first to point out how costly it is to run the APNU+AFC government. Last year, Chartered Accountant and Attorney-at-Law, Chris Ram had said that when one takes into account, the configuration of the APNU+AFC Government, along with its lineup of non-statutory bodies, Commissions of Inquiry and the like, it becomes quite clear that it is the most expensive government of our time.
Ram did not mince words as he criticized the government for its poor public expenditure management skills as well as its questionable approach to governance mechanisms.
“Our current administration is the largest, single government in Guyana’s post-colonial history. It has the most ministers, least number of technocrats, and the highest costs. Add to that the non-statutory bodies and you have one of the highest levels of public administration you will find anywhere…”
He added, “Employment costs in the country are also rising at dangerously high levels. What we need in this country is good management of the economy and it is absent. You look at all your mechanisms needed for oversight and you realize that they do not exist, and when they exist, they are not being used.”
Ram also noted that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had presented a report to the Government based on its most recent mission to Guyana. He said that the IMF’s publication speaks to the national economy while being critical of the Government’s expenditure.
Ram was quite critical of the fact that the Government is yet to make such a crucial report public.
“Why is the government not telling us these things? Why is it that the report is not being made public so that the public can see what is happening? There are serious issues,” he had said.
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