The Coalition That Stole Christmas

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Minister of State Joseph Harmon said a few days ago that the budget has brought smiles to the faces of the bulk of the Guyanese people. I would like to ask the Minister were he has found that “bulk” that he referred to.

By Dr. Vishnu Bandhu
Leader, URP

The government of Guyana assumes the parenthood of the entire nation; for all the citizens, whether they voted for them or not. And no matter how old we are, or our religious persuasion, we all still expect and appreciate gifts at Christmas. However, we have a government that is made up of a bunch of tone deaf leaders. I often wonder how is it that Guyana seems perpetually plagued with leaders that never seem to understand that we are the easiest people in the world to please. It does not take much to make Guyanese people happy. Yet both the PPP and the ‘PNC’ Coalition behave in ways that prove that they are just contemptuous with regards to our feelings.

The government just presented their budget and of course, it is larger than the previous one; just like the previous one was larger than the one before. However, what struck me was that the government is touting the work they put in, in bringing a budget this early. The United Republican Party (URP) would love to say that we appreciate the timely budget. But we can’t say that because the budget is not a people’s budget. For one, the URP – like most Guyanese – believed that the reason the public servants were given that arbitrary, measly, anti-union, wage increase a few months ago, was because the Government wanted to surprise the unions and all of us, by gifting us with an additional increase as we entered the festive season and the new year.

But not only did the government not offer a much deserved wage increase, they did not even give their “children” a Christmas bonus! What parent does that?! How could you present a budget at Christmas and not have at least a little Christmas present in it? How anti-festive and Grinch-like can this Government be?

The Minister of State said a few days ago that the budget has brought smiles to the faces of the bulk of the Guyanese people. I would like to ask the Minister were he has found that “bulk” that he referred to. This budget has landed with a thud on the emotions of the Guyanese people. The budget is filled with capital works projects that will see huge contracts going to the families and cronies of the current administration. Additionally, this tone-deaf government has chosen the Christmas season to dole out retrenchment letters and notices of further sugar estate closures. Who does that?! How insensitive must you be to take the most wonderful time of the year and make it the worse time of the year, for so many people? The news of retrenchment is bad at any time of the year but to spring it on folks at a time when everyone is programmed to be happy and joyous, is mean-spirited, cruel and visionless.

The URP will offer its official take on the contents of the budget at a later date. Suffice it to say that we are very disappointed with the structure of the budget. For a government that has observed the failures of the last administration for over a decade. For an administration that swept into power on the backs of the weary and frustrated, ordinary, working-class citizens of this country, we are totally disappointed that this budget offers nothing inspirational or transformational.

To say the least, this budget – while the largest – is the most disappointing one to date. And further, if the same approach of the under utilization of these funds are exhibited, as was seen over the last year, we will come to the end of 2018 just as broken and frustrated, as we are at the end of 2017. Our political parents have disappointed us!

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The views expressed in this column are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the THE WEST INDIAN.

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