The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has dubbed the new government “extravagant” and “lavish” and says that it was displayed in their 2015 budget estimates.
The opposition party has reiterated however, that it will not be cutting those “extravagant” items noted in the estimates but will basically leave the government to their own devices and bring it to the public.
Describing the administration as an “urban upper middle class Judeo-Christian elite,” the opposition has again discredited the government’s maiden budget that failed to coincide with promises made to the people.
“We have concluded the first budgetary exercise of the coaltion government and we were able to witness first hand certain worrying characteristics,” said PPP Executive Member, Anil Nandlall.
Criticism of the $221 billion fiscal package budget came Thursday August 27, one day after the A Partnership for National Unity +Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) government passed it. The opposition in a brutal fashion discredited the budget saying that not only did it not fulfill promises and maintained essential programs for citizens, but they lied in some instances and has already sought to award themselves “undeserving” benefits.
Freedom House held press conference entailed former Nandlall, former junior Finance Minister Juan Edghill, Africo Selman, Indra Chandrapal and Joseph Hamilton, who all gave their thoughts of the 2015 estimates.
Edghill, in highlighting sections of the budget which he felt was concerning said that; old age pensioners were duped into believing the pension was raised to $17,000 when simply, it rose by just over $300 since electricity and water subsidies were redirected. He said the $17,000 will mean nothing when pensioners start receiving bills they never did.
He said that the budget provided nothing for university student loans, while the proclaimed expansion of the cash grant to a feeding program was also not catered for. They criticized the new drug procurement measures for the regions saying it now allows for “contract splitting” since central government will give money to the regions and the regions will have to give the money back to government to buy their required drugs in bulk.
He said this allows for contract splitting since persons will now have to be sought to store drugs if purchasers do not have storage. He went on to criticize the Berbice Bridge reduction saying that the ordinary person will not benefit since bus drivers, for example, will not reduce bus fares which after calculating, would amount to only a $10 reduction.
The security sector was also not spared since they claimed that no allocations were made for the CCTV cameras and monitors touted. As well, they said Guyana is set to lose some US$80m earned through the Low Carbon strategy.
The opposition members slammed the government for extravagance in the purchase of $22m luxury vehicles, $18.5m on the AG’s duty free car and other huge sums to bring government agencies up to par for their new occupants.
The opposition said that they will not cut budget allocations for the sake of cutting. This is despite claims of luxury lifestyle and extravagance. They told the media that the Court passed a ruling that the budget cannot be cut and they will adhere to that. Edghill said however that the opposition will go further to highlight and address the “wrongs” of the government. They did not wish to pre-empt so gave no further detail on how they will go ahead.
The PPP does not have a parliamentary majority to cut the budget and there is no third party in the House with which it can team up to do so.