Opposition Says it Will Not Support ‘Failed’ Budget

Opposition leader, Bharrat Jagdeo

“This budget has failed. It is the same visionless budget, filled with platitudes and condescending attitudes,” Jagdeo Says

GEORGETOWN, Guyana – The main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) says it will not support the measures contained in the GUY$307 billion budget presented to Parliament by Finance Minister Winston Jordan on Monday.

Jordan in a presentation last just over four hours, raised the income tax threshold, provided salary increases for public workers and a 5.1 per cent hike for old age pensioners.

In addition, he said while there would be no increases in the value added tax (VAT), the David Granger administration was providing exemptions for a number of goods and services.

Jordan said that the theme of the budget “Transforming the Economy, Empowering People, Building Sustainable Communities for the Good Life,” underscored the government’s intention to improve the socioeconomic conditions for all nationals.

But Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo said that his party could not support the fiscal package ‘in its current form” and that the government would receive GUY$223 billion in taxes.

“On jobs, on crime-fighting, on welfare, on stimulus for business, on cutting extravagance: they have failed. This budget has failed. It is the same visionless budget, filled with platitudes and condescending attitudes that they have come up with once again,” Jagdeo said.

He questioned the government’s decision to give up GUY$3.5 billion in revenue through tax exemptions and reductions without putting in place a stimulus package and job-creation plan.

Jagdeo, a former head of state, said that the present administration had also failed to provide a stimulus package for a “tanking” economy or any job-creation opportunity.

“This is unbelievable that a government that thinks that the economy is already tanking in spite of what they said, you would think that they would either give a stimulus through greater tax write-offs or reduce the overall taxation or alternatively, they would come up with a series of policies that would be a stimulus to the private sector,” Jagdeo said, adding that the Finance Minister had “confirmed that the economy performed badly in 2018”.

In his presentation, Jordan said despite lower-than-expected performance in the gold and sugar industries for 2018, Guyana’s real Gross Domestic Product (GDP), grew by 3.4 per cent, despite an initial projection of 3.8 per cent at the start of the year.

The Finance Minister said with economic activity having steadily improved in the first half of the year, the growth rate after the first six months was 4.5 per cent. – CMC