A sin­is­ter 2018 bud­get – Na­tion must be ad­vised to prepare for fur­ther stag­na­tion - Ram­sa­roop

Weekend Mirror - - FRONT PAGE -


Min­is­ter Win­ston Jor­dan is ex­pected to present the 2018 Na­tional Bud­get on Mon­day, Novem­ber 27, but he has, in fact, al­ready pre­sented the bud­get for all of the Con­sti­tu­tional Of­fices such as Par­lia­ment, the Supreme Court and the Au­di­tor Gen­eral’s Of­fice.

If one were look­ing to pre­empt what is to be ex­pected on Mon­day, they need not look fur­ther than what was ob­tained on Novem­ber 17 last in the Na­tional As­sem­bly. Economic Ad­vi­sor to the Op­po­si­tion Leader, DrPeter Ram­sa­roop, has since pre­dicted that there will be fur­ther cuts to key agen­cies and more wan­ton spend­ing on un­wanted white ele­phants while the na­tion suf­fers.

Dr Ram­sa­roop, drew ref­er­ence to the Fi­nance Min­is­ter’s jus­ti­fi­ca­tions for cuts to key con­sti­tu­tional agen­cies. Jor­dan, on that day in the House, gave a sin­gle ex­cuse for every sin­gle slash he made to each of the con­sti­tu­tional of­fices in this coun­try- he es­sen­tially con­ceded that the econ­omy is in bad shape and as such couldn’t af­ford any­thing more than rec­om­mended and al­lo­cated. Ac­cord­ing to Dr Ram­sa­roop, while there is some truth to this, the hid­den agenda is far more sin­is­ter. He pointed to the al­lo­ca­tion to Guyana Elec­tions Com­mis­sion (GECOM) as an ex­am­ple.

Ram­sa­roop posited that a slash of al­most one bil­lion dol­lars of the bud­get of the elec­tions body, cou­pled with the uni­lat­eral ap­point­ment of an 84-year-old party hack is just another move to­wards ma­nip­u­lat­ing the elec­tions ma­chin­ery.

“The AFC is al­ready in sham­bles and the PNC will have to go into fu­ture elec­tions alone. Re­mem­ber Lo­cal Govern­ment Elec­tions is next year,” he stated.

A fur­ther anal­y­sis of the

Fi­nance Min­is­ter, Win­ston Jor­dan

2018 bud­get al­lo­ca­tions to the con­sti­tu­tional agen­cies re­veals just how omi­nous a fis­cal pol­icy this Ad­min­is­tra­tion is pur­su­ing. The cap­i­tal al­lo­ca­tion to the ju­di­ciary was slashed by two-thirds.

This would mean that the courts, with the ex­cep­tion of pay­ing its salaries, tele­phone and elec­tric­ity bills, would be un­able to im­ple­ment any of its planned projects aimed at im­prov­ing the jus­tice de­liv­ery sys­tem.

“Guyana’s courts have now been es­sen­tially left gagged and stuck in time,” he added.

Even more trou­bling, the Fi­nance Min­is­ter went on to slash the bud­get of the Of­fice of the Au­di­tor Gen­eral. While the courts of Guyana are ex­pected to en­force the rule of law and keep the Ad­min­is­tra­tion in check, the Au­dit Of­fice is in charge of en­sur­ing that every penny spent by this Govern­ment is done so free from cor­rup­tion and that we get value for money.

In the two years that we have seen this Ad­min­is­tra­tion in op­er­a­tion, the Au­di­tor Gen­eral’s Of­fice has found that there has been hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars in over­pay­ment to con­trac­tors and that bil­lions were used in breach of our pro­cure­ment laws.

“I have been told that the Au­di­tor Gen­eral was peeved and openly com­plained that the cuts by this Granger Ad­min­is­tra­tion will in fact im­pede the au­dits into their spend­ing. Every right-think­ing Guyanese must now ask them­selves…why would a Govern­ment seek to ma­nip­u­late the elec­tions ma­chin­ery, the court sys­tem and the au­di­tors? The writ­ing is on the wall,” he it­er­ated.

Min­is­ter Jor­dan has al­ready spent mil­lions of dol­lars erect­ing bill­boards across the coun­try tout­ing ‘the path­way to the good life con­tin­ues’ but one should not ex­pect any trans­for­ma­tional an­nounce­ments on Mon­day, since by the Min­is­ter’s own ad­mis­sion, the size of the bud­get is ex­pected to see an in­signif­i­cant in­crease from that of 2017.

The In­ter­na­tional Mone­tary Fund (IMF), the In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment Bank (IDB) and other in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions have all weighed in on Guyana’s economic bill of health, and doc­u­ments a con­trac­tion in economic growth.

A na­tional bud­get is es­sen­tially made up of two cat­e­gories- re­cur­ring ex­pen­di­tures such as salaries, util­i­ties and main­te­nance, and cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­tures such as new projects.

Most new projects are given their al­lo­ca­tions in yearly tranches. This es­sen­tially means that ninety per cent of the bud­get is pre­planned or based on ex­ist­ing fac­tors. For Jor­dan to tell the mem­bers of the Na­tional As­sem­bly that the 2018 bud­get will be just a lit­tle more than the 2017 bud­get, it can only mean that there will be no new trans­for­ma­tional an­nounce­ment and that things are go­ing to con­tinue to be the same, ex­cept that he ex­pects to col­lect a lit­tle more.

“The Fi­nance Min­is­ter is on record promis­ing no new taxes but this does not rule out fur­ther in­creases in fees, li­censes and other charges for Govern­ment ser­vices,” Dr Ram­sa­roop con­cluded.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Guyana

© PressReader. All rights reserved.