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Budget lacks youth focus- Charles Ramson Jr.

Charles Ramson Jr.

Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) Member of Parliament (MP), Charles Ramson Jr. on Monday hinted that the opposition party may vote against Budget 2015 in total or in part at the very least, even as he assailed the fiscal package for what he termed as lacking a youth-centered approach.

This indication came during his contribution to the debate of Budget 2015, during which he noted that the speech used to present this year’s budget cites “two measly paragraphs.”

Much of Ramson’s presentation was dedicated to decrying what he perceives a deficit of youth-centered initiatives and allocations in the 2015 budget. After dismissing government’s proposed policies and allocations to youth for 2015 as “flaccid,” Ramson said “…it is for this reason that I do not have any stretch of clemency toward the approval if this budget.”

Ramson indicated that the flaccidity of government’s proposed solutions is no surprise since the average age of Cabinet Members is 62.

“We deserve more than two measly paragraphs in your budget statement and more than just platitude statements about a draft youth policy,” Ramson, declared, adding that the fact that the budgetary allocations toward youth appears among the final items makes it seem as though the allocations were added “almost like an afterthought…an errant bastard whose father reluctantly acknowledges him.”

Worthy to note is that fact that the coalition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) + Alliance for Change (AFC) government holds the majority of the seats in the National Assembly (33) and therefore does not need the support of the opposition party to pass this year’s budget.

Building his argument, Ramson, one of the youngest MPs in the 11th Parliament, pointed out that proposed current expenditure for youth this year is $63 million, while the proposed capital expenditure is $50 million. He said that these allocations are unfortunate and pointed out that last year the former administration allocated $200 million for current expenditure on youth and $961 million for capital expenditure on youth.

In the case of Budget 2015, however, the expenditure cited will cover September to December, while the allocations in the 2014 Budget covered the entire year.

According to Ramson, the current government owes much to the youth of Guyana for its victory. He said that government “rode the wave of youth straight to the seat of power,” and that now that they have gotten into power they have “relegated and demoted the Ministry of Youth into a subordinate position and a program of the Ministry of Education.” Opposed to this move, Ramson says the PPPC believes there should be a Ministry of Youth.”s

Further, noting the lack of youth in Cabinet and the government side of the National Assembly, Ramson accused government of being in breach of Article 28 of the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana. The Article states that “every young person has the right to ideological, social, cultural and vocational development and to the opportunity for responsible participation in the development of the socialist order of society.”

Ramson failed to mention that Article 28 is non-justiciable and is but a guiding principle, as opposed to an enforceable provision.