Minutes after Finance Minister Winston Jordan wrapped up his 2016 budget presentation, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo took to the media, describing the annual fiscal plan as “anti-development, anti-poor and disappointing”.
Jagdeo decried the $230 Billion financial plan and trashed the theme, saying the measures were no guarantee for the restoration of confidence or the stimulation of growth in the economy.
He said there was a huge disconnect between the budgeted programs and policies and there stated objectives. “There was not a single budgetary measure for mining, nothing for rice and sugar… nothing for construction, nothing for manufacturing and very little for tourism,” the Opposition Leader said.
Jagdeo, a former President and Finance Minister in the past People’s Progressive Party government, said he was not impressed with the measures outlined in the budget which he said were “atrocious”.
“These measures are not designed to help poor people. The pension was increased by a tiny sum, 1,200 dollars. We saw the increase in public assistance, again a paltry sum. We have seen no increase in wages and salaries and the increase in the threshold will bring little benefit to people’s lives,” he added.
The Opposition Leader was not in agreement with the measures to tighten the tax system. He believes the new tax measures will put undue pressure on the population and “is a lazy way of collecting taxes and going after tax defrauders.”
Jagdeo said the Private Sector is likely to lose further confidence in the economy since more pressure is applied on them with little to stimulate growth. “If I had to look at how this would change people’s lives, people will have retrogression in their lives. The good life can’t start with this budget,” Jagdeo lamented.
He accused Minister Jordan of engaging in several instances of repackaging measures that were presented in previous PPP budgets. He also accused the Minister of inflating the numbers in his projections for 2016. “They would have been better off if they had a serious discussion with us to find out where we were taking the country,” Jagdeo lamented.
He was happy with the reexamination with the Amaila Falls Hydro Power Project, the CJIA expansion project and the Specialty Hospital which were all initiated by the PPP government. He promised to address the budget in more depth when he meets with the media for his weekly press conference next week.
This was the coalition government’s second national budget since coming to office in May 2015.