2018 Bud­get: The Na­tion Needed Much

Weekend Mirror - - EDITORIAL -

The

Bud­get Es­ti­mates for 2018 pre­sented by Fi­nance Min­is­ter, Win­ston Jor­dan, is at best dis­ap­point­ing and at worst an­other lost op­por­tu­nity to fix the econ­omy, which over the past few years has be­come re­tarded and dys­func­tional.

The bud­get clearly lacks any clear sense of di­rec­tion, es­pe­cially when it comes to ad­dress­ing the core is­sues such as job cre­ation, for­eign ex­change in­flows, in­cen­tives to the pri­vate sec­tor, more par­tic­u­larly the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor, and mea­sures aimed at sus­tain­able devel­op­ment and growth.

There is hardly any men­tion of plans to gen­er­ate al­ter­na­tive em­ploy­ment for the thou­sands of sugar work­ers, who are cur­rently out of work fol­low­ing the clo­sure of the Wales Es­tate and the thou­sands more who will be forced into the bread­line as a con­se­quence of the an­nounced clo­sure of Rose Hall, Skel­don and En­more Es­tates.

The dra­co­nian application of Value Added Tax (VAT) on wa­ter and elec­tric­ity re­mains un­changed. Many had hoped that this mill­stone around the necks of con­sumers would have been re­moved, but that was not to be.

In­stead, pensioners were treated to a miserly in­crease of G$500 or the equiv­a­lent of just over US$2.00 per month!

This is noth­ing short of an in­sult to our se­nior cit­i­zens, es­pe­cially when seen against the back­drop of the with­drawal of sub­si­dies, which were given to pensioners by the pre­vi­ous PPP/C ad­min­is­tra­tion as they re­late to wa­ter and elec­tric­ity con­sump­tion.

This ad­min­is­tra­tion seems to be­lieve that the ex­emp­tion of old age pensioners from the payment of air­port taxes and for pass­ports is an ad­e­quate com­pen­sa­tion for the re­moval of sev­eral other sub­si­dies granted by the PPP/C ad­min­is­tra­tion.

This is not only de­cep­tive, but fun­da­men­tally elit­ist given the fact that the ma­jor­ity of pensioners, for sev­eral rea­sons may, be un­able to take ad­van­tage of that fa­cil­ity.

The in­come tax thresh­old, which was con­sis­tently ad­justed up­wards by the PPP/C, has re­mained at the same level. Had there been an in­crease in this thresh­old, some more cash in the pock­ets of low in­come earn­ers would have been pos­si­ble.

The truth is that our pensioners and low in­come earn­ers are no bet­ter off by the mea­sures con­tained in the bud­get. The same can be said for our farm­ers, pub­lic ser­vants, busi­ness­men and the work­ing peo­ple as a whole.

The 2018 Bud­get is noth­ing to shout about and rep­re­sented more of the same failed poli­cies and pro­grammes im­ple­mented by the cur­rent APNU/AFC ad­min­is­tra­tion since it as­sumed power in May 2015.

It is the fourth bud­get pre­sented by this ad­min­is­tra­tion one that rep­re­sented for all prac­ti­cal pur­poses more of the same - namely a nar­ra­tive of doom and gloom. It is a far cry from the good life promised by the Granger ad­min­is­tra­tion, as more and more Guyanese are pushed into poverty and want.

The Bud­get De­bates will com­mence shortly. It is in­ter­est­ing to see what ar­gu­ments the rul­ing coali­tion would ad­vance to jus­tify this 2018 Bud­get, which has al­ready been ad­versely commented on by sev­eral stake­hold­ers, in­clud­ing the Pri­vate Sec­tor Com­mis­sion (PSC).

What is wor­thy to note is the ab­sence of any men­tion of the an­tic­i­pated rev­enues from the emerg­ing oil and gas sec­tor and how these will dove­tail with the tra­di­tional sec­tors in terms of a holis­tic and in­te­grated devel­op­ment strat­egy.

Na­tional Bud­gets are im­por­tant to the well-be­ing of the na­tion as a whole. It rep­re­sents a work plan of the gov­ern­ment for a given year and as such it has to be care­fully and metic­u­lously crafted with sig­nif­i­cant in­puts from all stake­hold­ers.

It is clear that this im­por­tant in­gre­di­ent is ab­sent from the Bud­get preparations, or if done at all, was su­per­fi­cial and of to­ken value.

The na­tion is en­titled to much more than what is con­tained in the Bud­get Es­ti­mates. (Hy­dar Ally)

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