Former President Bharrat Jagdeo on Tuesday indicated that he has signaled his intention not to accept a salary as Leader of the Opposition because he already receives a pension as former President.
A salary as Leader of the Opposition would be significantly less than his pension package as a former President.
During a press conference at Freedom House, the soon to be Leader of the Opposition, chastised the APNU+AFC government for offering a budget that contains several of the plans and promises of the People’s Progressive Party.
He said many of the infrastructural projects that have been highlighted in the budget are brainchild projects of the PPP. The former President intends to be in Parliament along with the other members of the PPP Civic in time for the budget debates which begin next week.
The PPP has not taken up its parliamentary seats on the Opposition side since it lost the May 11, 2015 elections, but the former President gave all assurances that the party will be present next week as he moves to make the new government accountable. He said the salary increases offered by the APNU+AFC are lower that what was offered in the past by the PPP Civic governments. But he expressed concern about the $1.4 Million increase for contract workers for the government.
On the agriculture front, Jagdeo said while the PPP will support the subsides for the rice and sugar industry, they cannot support the decision to stop the Amaila Falls Hyrdro Power project, which is a project that began during the PPP’s time in office.
He said the Finance Minister may not fully understand the costs attached to brining the project to a halt. According to Mr. Jagdeo, it is criminal for the Finance Minister not to understand the benefits of the hydro power project, which was rocked with several problems and setbacks during the last PPP administration.
During the budget presentation on Monday, Finance Minister Winston Jordan said it would be criminal for the project to continue the way the PPP left it. He said it is not a feasible project at this time. But today, Mr. Jagdeo argued that the project should have been allowed to continue since the country would have already spent millions of dollars on it and all that money would now be lost.
With regards for the sugar industry, he dodged responsibility for the state of the industry and the Skeldon Sugar factory which has sucked in millions of dollars but has offered very little to aid in the industry’s development.
Jagdeo said the Skeldon plan was put in place during the Presidency of Janet Jagan and that was before he took office. He said he does not intend to appear before the current Commission of Inquiry which is examining several issues in relation to the industry and its viability.
He said that it is strange that the new government now has a number of senior officials employed at Guysuco who were accused of playing a role in the sugar industry’s demise previously.
He repeated his view that the budget is underwhelming and lacks details that could present a clear path to development.