Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday called on government to pay members of the Disciplined Services and public servants a one-month bonus because there is sufficient money in the treasury.
The former Guyanese leader was unabashed about his motives for the suggestion- political support and economic stimulation. “If we get the political sympathy, that’s a bonus but who would not want political sympathy.” Asked if that was his main reason for suggesting the payout, he said “No, no because I am concerned about the economy but we have a political party, we are the opposition, we want political sympathy, that’s an obvious thing,” he said.
Jagdeo told a news conference that only recently GYD$8 billion were been transferred from the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) to the Consolidated Fund. “It’s a large sum of money. It was done quietly and, therefore, they have the fiscal space,” he said.
He said police, soldiers, fire fighters and prison service personnel should not be the only ones who should receive a one month bonus, but also all public servants. Jagdeo said sugar workers should also be paid 5 percent wage increases for 2015 and 2016.
A former Finance Minister, Jagdeo said the problem is not inflationary pressure but rather the need to pump expansion of economic activities and job creation. “The inflationary pressures are not that great so you have to have a conducive regime – both a fiscal and a monetary regime for that purpose- the government is not doing it,” he said
In the area imported inflation, he said that was unlikely because Guyana would save about GYD$250 million to GYD$300 million per year alone on spending less on fuel prices. “The demand for foreign currency to import fuel has dropped significantly. The demand for foreign currency for economic activities- buying intermediate goods, etc- has dropped so if that had not happened, then you would probably see even with the economic growth by the two gold companies… then you would have already seen significantly more pressure on the exchange rate so that is why I am saying you can do these things without it being inflationary,” said the Russian-trained economist.
The Opposition Leader, meanwhile, accused government of sidelining the PPP from pre-national budget consultations by refusing to give into several requests for key documents on revenue projections, the rolling Public Sector Investment Programme, macro variables, and money supply. “For us to prepare, we need documents. We need, for example, we need revenue projections…If you do not send this to us, we cannot come and make a proper presentation so wither they don’t have it or they don’t want to send it,” he said.
Finance Minister, Winston Jordan is expected to table Guyana’s 2017 National Budget in the National Assembly on Monday, November 28, 2016.