Opposition Parliamentarian, Dr. Frank Anthony touched a raw nerve among government MPs when he used his budget presentation on Tuesday to call on the government to reconsider its move to downsize the sugar industry.
Dr. Anthony’s emotional presentation provoked insistent heckling from the government benches as he described the 2018 budget as a lackluster document that offers nothing tangible for citizens.
“The government seems tired and they need a rest, perhaps the people should give them that rest,” he said.
Dr. Anthony told the National Assembly that thousands of sugar workers and their well-being are being sacrificed as the government pursues its agenda.
He reminded that this is after sugar workers were promised government support for the revitalization of the ailing industry which had benefited from government subventions annually over the last decade.
“Instead of lending a helping hand this government is kicking the people and the industry while it is down,” Dr. Anthony said.
He said next year is likely to be a year characterized by large retrenchment in the sugar industry as sugar workers will be on the breadline from the imminent downsizing of the industry.
“Hundreds of sugar workers have already received their Christmas gift from the government… kicking them out on the street to scrounge for a living.”
The opposition MP said workers feel betrayed and called on the government to at least establish a social net to help families transition.
Dr. Anthony then turned his attention to the health sector, critiquing the government’s procurement practices and approach to health infrastructure.
He claimed that he has received persistent reports that the government is buying second-hand items that work for a while and stop
“Some are so outdated that the manufacturers have stopped making the spare parts, yet we are buying them for our hospitals.”
He said another dimension to the problem of shortage of equipment is that the government was buying and not installing or using the equipment.
Dr. Anthony ended his presentation accusing the government of being uncaring of the plight citizens face from policy decision and shortage across sectors.