‘What kind of Maths is that?’
-Jordan accuses PPP/C of falsifying stats to confuse on budget
Minister of Finance Winston Jordan yesterday accused the opposition PPP/C of falsifying statistics to create confusion about the proposed 2019 national budget.
As he closed the five-day debate on the proposed national budget for 2019, Jordan implored the House to be careful with what is recorded in the Hansard as he charged that sinister moves are afoot.
Jordan doubled down on his previous assertion that the pre-2015 economy was financed by criminality and he declared that Guyana’s economy has been going through some growing pains as it adjusts to depending only on legal sectors.
The minister also stressed that he would not be responding to requests that he prove his claims about an illegal economy, while saying, “You don’t prove facts. A fact is a fact.”
“Where drugs wasn’t involved, wholesale giveaway of our patrimony was involved,” he said, before explaining that in 2014 more than $92 billion in tax remissions were paid compared to $64.3 billion in 2017 and $85 billion in 2018 because of companies such as ExxonMobil.
“You didn’t have Exxon and these companies then, so who got $92.4 billion?” he asked
Jordan, who was the last speaker, specifically targeted a claim made by PPP/C parliamentarian Irfaan Ali that the cost of simple items has increased by 6% over the last year.
“What kind of Maths is that? Where you adding percentages rather than real value?” he asked the House before explaining that the consumer index shows that prices of these items have actually increased by 2%.
Former Attorney General Anil Nandlall was also taken to task for declaring in the House that public debt has increase by 100% when actual numbers show that the $355.8 billion in debt as of 2013 had been reduced to $345 billion at the end of 2017.
“It seems that no matter how many public documents you bring to the House, the western side will create their own statistics,” he said, before adding that the House should call on the opposition to provide proof of the 200 new taxes it claims the APNU+AFC administration has implemented.
“There have been no new taxes under this administration. We have not increased a single tax. In fact, we have decreased the corporate tax rate to 25% and the income tax. We have decrease the rate from 30% to 28% and increased the threshold. We have removed the income tax from NIS contributions,” he reminded, while stressing that the increase in tax revenue is a result of an expansion in the tax base.
“As the base widens, we will get more revenue. If everyone pays their fair share, we commit that we will continue to reduce taxes and increase the threshold,” Jordan said, before advising the House to prepare for the propaganda to thicken and expand as government focuses its attention on social services and infrastructure.
“Having now got GuySuCo off our backs figuratively, we are now turning attention to the areas we should have given attention in the first place,” he said, while noting that government spent $38.5 billion on the sugar industry up to the end of 2018 and then had to find $5 billion plus interest for severance payments to laid off workers.
Additionally, Jordan noted that $6 billion has been allocated for feasibility studies so that a “project bank” can be created.
“A number of projects were done without feasibility studies and now we have to pay for projects which were to benefit us. We have to stop the idea of turning up with project ideas and accepting any money offered for the idea. Yes, feasibility studies are a fact of life and they will be a feature of this administration,” he explained.
Next week, the National Assembly will resolve itself into the Committee of Supply and consider the proposed estimated spending for 2019.