Opposition Member of Parliament and former Housing Minister Irfaan Ali opened Monday’s budget debate with accusations of extravagance leveled against the government even as he reminisced on the People’s Progressive Party management of the Guyana economy.
Ali’s presentation got off to a heated start and returned heckling to the House which was absent with the absence of the PPP on the opposition benches.
The Opposition Member described the budget as containing “nothing new, nothing fresh.” He boasted of leaving in the hands of the new government an economy that is “vibrant, buoyant and full of energy.”
He said “Contrary to the claim that the PPP/C government handed over a sluggish economy, the country expanded faster than its counterparts in the Caribbean and Latin American since 2011. Notwithstanding the unstable political environment created by the coalition since 2011 the economy consistently recorded growth rates higher than the average for Caribbean and Latin American between 2011 and 2014.”
Mr. Ali reminded the government that it has “inherited” the successes of nine consecutive years of economic growth and believes it was only able to unveil the $221 billion budget because of the hard work of the former PPP administration.
“We are here to defend, protect and promote the rights and privileges of the Guyanese people,” Ali added.
He said the PPP is disappointed in the budget and the work of the Finance Minister, claiming that it stands to take away thousands of jobs, direct subsidies and reduce investment.
Ali believes too that budget 2015 failed to address issues of confidence and he rubbished the Finance Minister’s claim that the economy was bankrupt.
He pointed out that Guyana’s economy has emerged as one of the “more progressive” in the Caribbean region but expressed fears that a the new government’s approach to management stand to retard this success.
“I am still trying to understand how this seasoned economist would draw that conclusion on the one hand and on the other hand saying he found billions in private commercial bank accounts.”
Ali lobbied for more support for the agricultural sector, particularly rice and sugar which he said will be in keeping with the APNU+AFC elections campaign promises.
“While the rice farmers await the new markets and better price, this administration is still campaigning with the hope that people will be distracted from the real issues. Sadly the farmers will have to hang on while the administration continues with its political gyrations.”
He also called for increased wages for the public servants and lambasted the government for not consulting with the Guyana Public Service Union.
He slammed the new administration on its failure to deliver on several of its elections promises on assumption to office and its 100 days plan and said “they are on the journey of destroying every single credible institution this PPP administration has established.”
Ali’s presentation ended amid loud heckling even as he was refused additional time which was requested by opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira. The Speaker did not give approval for additional time and called on the next speaker.