2017 Budget unconscionable, a waste of time

2017 Budget unconscionable, a waste of time

first_img…brace yourself for what is about to come ‒ ManickchandUnconscionable, a waste of time and an exercise in futility were the reaction to the 2017 National Estimates by former Education Minister Priya Manickchand, as she made her presentation on the annual debate which got underway Monday in the National Assembly.Former Education Minister Priya Manickchand during her presentation in the National AssemblyManickchand, a frontbencher in the Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), in an impassioned presentation joined her colleague Parliamentarians in the Opposition benches, to call on Government to withdraw the Budget and craft a new one in keeping with the guidelines of the Constitution of Guyana.She was in fact adamant that the reaction on the part of Government ministers to the growing voices of discontent is indicative of a disrespectful, arrogant and insensitive Administration which is simply being a bully.The coalition A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government, according to Manickchand, “is being a bully.”The former Government minister in the PPP/C Administration told the House that the 2017 Budget is the first such in recent history that has been so widely criticised by formal bodies, such as the Private Sector Commission (PSC), in addition to the citizenry.Manickchand told the House that she would have been happy to be able to congratulate the Minister on an early Budget, had its contents been in keeping with the needs of the people.She dismissed the 2017 Budget as a short-term spending plan—a plan that does not define a trajectory for the nation over the next five or ten years.The Budget instead lacks innovation since there are no plans to promote growth, she said.Manickchand told the debate that the Budget is also devoid of any measures that would tackle the constraints facing the private sector, such as unavailable human capital, high energy costs and lack of access to capital.Reminding the House that as Opposition Members of Parliament, her colleagues are representing a vast section of the Guyanese population, Manickchand boldly asserted that the 2017 Budget is in fact useless and ill thought out.MisleadingSpeaking to some of the effects of the allocations and measures in the 2017 Budget, Manickchand used the occasion to rubbish the decision by Government to apply Value Added Tax (VAT) to all of the budget agencies.According to Manickchand, this in itself defeats the arguments by Finance Minister Winston Jordan, who had suggested that the spending on Education has been increased over the previous year.Manickchand countered, saying that the Minister is being misleading since with the application of VAT at least $1 billion has been slashed from the Ministry’s expenditures.She suggested that the monies being taken back by Government could have in fact been invested to upgrade the infrastructure in the education system, but what obtains is that Government has in fact robbed the children of the nation.A visibly livid Manickchand also railed against Government’s decision to apply VAT on education materials and queried if Government had seriously thought out the consequences of the collective Cabinet decision.According to the former Education Minister, there are more than 15,000 students in Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) alone that attend private schools and will now be subjected to paying fees that will now attract a 14 per cent VAT.Manickchand queried if Government was prepared to accommodate those students should they be unable to afford private schools.Taxing the nationShe lambasted the Administration’s inability to present a long-term developmental plan such as serious investments in the University of Guyana, a Deep Water Harbour, or investments in human capital.“There is nothing new in this Budget, just an attempt to tax the nation… it is a waste of time, it’s useless, an exercise on futility, it is a waste of time in terms of developing this country,” according to Manickchand.She stated that what Government is in fact focused on is taxes on just about everything, including educational and medical services and supplies.“People now have to pay VAT on medical services, on medicines,” Manickchand said, and suggested that persons cannot even afford to get a headache now since medications will now be 14 per cent more expensive.She lambasted too the imposition of VAT on accessories required by the differently abled.Manickchand observed that in a year when the Finance Ministry boasts of a sign language interpreter for the presentation of the 2017 Budget, the Minister has instead slapped VAT on hearing aids.The former Education Minister also lambasted the Administration over the proposed measure to remove items from the zero-rated list that would in fact drive up the cost of living for all.“This is a brace-your-self budget… Brace yourself Guyana for what is about to come,” Manickchand said, even as she sought to castigate the decision to apply VAT on the staple of any child’s education—play dough.According to Manickchand, the promises of the APNU/AFC coalition were in fact big fat lies, and that Budget 2017 now only promises prosperity by taxation. (Gary Eleazar)last_img

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