(GINA) Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh, during his presentation to wrap up the debate on the $220B, 2014 National budget, criticised comments made by the Leader of the Opposition, David Granger that the Government has failed to implement measures to reduce the Valued Added Tax (VAT.)
The Finance Minister said that the Opposition Leader and his party were maintaining their tradition of being irresponsible by giving citizens the impression that this unrealistic expectation can be delivered without causing grave financial burden to the country.
Granger who spoke before Minister Singh said that Guyana was bleeding because of failure on the part of the Government to put in measures in place such as laws and the reduction of VAT from 16 to 10 percent.
However, during his presentation Minister Singh said that such comment not only continues to show the Opposition’s recklessness, but their ruse in continuing to mislead the nation.
“As responsible leaders we have an obligation to not say to our people you must expect wages to be doubled next year, you must expect old age pension to be enough to live on, you must expect the treasury to provide for your every need,” the Minister said.
The Finance Minister noted that the state has its responsibility, but a responsible leader must also ensure that he does not create in the minds of his people the expectation that the state will solve all their problems.
“The truth is the citizen has a great individual responsibility for his own future, and his own responsibility, and any leader anywhere in the world who says to the public employee your wages should be doubled and that is what is reasonable, frankly speaking is creating an unreasonable expectation, creating misleading expectation,” he said.
The Minister pointed out that it is easy for the Opposition Leader to create this unrealistic expectation in the minds of people because he does not have the obligation to deliver on that unrealistic expectation.
The Finance Minister said such careless policy of doubling wages and pensions and cutting VAT would lead to bankruptcy, and said the PPPC government will never bankrupt Guyana for political gains.
“…. we will never sacrifice the solvency and prosperity of the country at the altar of political expediency,” he said.
“This PPPC party government will always have the interest of the people of Guyana at heart, their interest today, tomorrowand one generation from today,” he said.
He added that the PPPC government has more than doubled the income tax threshold in the face of less than 10 years and reduced the income rate from 33.3 to 30 percent, reduce the corporate tax rate from 35 and 45 to 30 and 40 percent, “so let there be no mistake about our faithfulness to the interest of the people of Guyana,” he said.
Minister Singh noted that Budget 2014 represents the latest instalment of responsible policy of the PPPC government. He said that the Government approached the debates on the estimate in good faith, and will subject the estimates to the ultimate scrutiny but trust that once this would have been done that the Opposition would see merits in the proposals contained in the estimates for 2014 and vote resoundingly in favour.
Deliberation and consideration of Budget 2014 estimates begin tomorrow.
On March 24, the Finance Minister presented the 2014 budget under the theme ‘A better Guyana for all Guyanese’ which contained several measures for the betterment of Guyanese. Among these are: $6B to turn around sugar industry’s fortunes, $500M to boost rice industry’s competitiveness, $200M for Agriculture diversification, $1B for Rural Enterprise Development,$800M to develop a Tourism & Hospitality Institute,$100M for dredging Port Georgetown, $3.7B for GPL’s capital expenditure support, $3.2B to subsidise Linden electricity, $1B for Hinterland Road development, $1B for a countrywide Clean Up Campaign, $10,000 cash grant for every child in the public school system, and 50% increase in electricity tariff assistance for pensioners along with a five percent increase in their pension.