Last Updated on Monday, 5 December 2016, 13:03 by Denis Chabrol
The heated exchanges in budget 2017 debates have already started with Opposition MP Joseph Hamilton taking to the floor to denounce what he called a “poisonous” budget presented by Finance Minister Winston Jordan, which would cause “sufferation and murderation to Guyanese people.”
“It is the first death announcement budget read on national television,” Hamilton said in his presentation noting that while Minister Greenidge was Finance Minister in the late 1980s to early 1990s had presented “death announcement” budgets, those were done on the radio.
“This budget is a recipe for escalation of crime and criminality,” Hamilton continued adding that it provides for less jobs and less opportunities for young people. Hamilton believes the budget will place pressure on households and is likely to “exacerbate spousal abuse and suicide.”
“Since budget presentation, Guyanese people and their representatives made their views known,” Hamilton said.
“And the overwhelming view is that the budget is bad for businesses, bad for miners, bad for the sick and aged, bad for young people, bad for single-parents, bad for self-employed persons, bad for public servants, bad for teachers… [and good for] government ministers and their cronies,” he further noted.
The Opposition MP, who shadows Business Minister Dominic Gaskin, said the budget does nothing to stimulate the economy. “Nothing to create jobs and put money into people’s pocket. It will do the opposite. It will take money out of people’s pockets [and] rob citizens of monies already in their pocket, purses and bank accounts.”
Hamilton challenged the words expressed by Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman a few days ago that persons should stop complaining about the budget. Hamilton’s words were met by shouts of “arrogance” from the opposition side of the House.
“What he is saying is to drink from this poisonous chalice,” Hamilton said on Minister Trotman’s words, pointing out that Ministerial benefits include free electricity and water provided by the state.
Hamilton said single mothers will complain because they do not have such special provisions.
Opposition MP Hamilton took time to make a few jabs at Business Minister Dominic Gaskin. “Government Chief Whip [Amna Ally], and my Chief Whip [Gail Teixeira] have done me an injustice because I have to shadow an invisible minister,” Hamilton said on Gaskin’s performance in his capacity as policy head for the Business Ministry.
Hamilton referred to Gaskin as “Willy” challenging Gaskin’s positions on what “will” be done at the Business Ministry rather than what has already happened.
“You got a language problem and ya brains ain’t functioning,” Government Chief Whip Amna Ally jumped in to challenge Hamilton to thunderous laughter in the Chamber.
Speaker of the House, Barton Scotland asked for Opposition MP Hamilton to take his seat as he warned both sides of the House to hold back on their distracting banter.
The opposition side of the House was not happy with this since the comment which caused the Speaker to intervene had emerged from Government’s side.
Continuing his presentation, Hamilton asked government to show where the 6000 jobs were created that were referenced by Minister Gaskin in his presentation.
“What are the sectors?” Hamilton question, “Unless you are pulling this out of the air. Every time there is a blanket number, what we are sure about is that people are losing their jobs. And investors like Barama, Baishanlin and Demerara Timbers can give the numbers of people who are on the breadline who they have let go.”
Concluding his presentation, Hamilton called for government to withdraw the “poisonous” budget measures that include a 14 percent Value Added Tax on water bills over GYD$1,500 per month and electricity more than GYD$10,000.