Member of Parliament for the Opposition, People’s Progressive Party and former Education Minister, Priya Manickchand on Monday told the National Assembly that she cannot recall ever coming across a budget in her lifetime that has received so much pushback from the society.
“I cannot recall another budget that receive this much criticism and worry and this much push back from all sectors of the society”, Manickchand said, as she stood to make her contributions to her budget debate.
She said based on what she has heard and seen, the reaction has ranged from anger and outrage to fear all across the society.
The Member of Parliament turned to the Guyana Times and reactions from citizens interviewed by that newspapers to drive home her point that the budget is a stressful one for the nation.
“Why all of a sudden all of these citizens have all these bad things to say about you”, she questioned the government.
An animated Manickchand noted that the coalition government has fallen back on many of its promises and even its supporters are upset with the budget and its measures.
She spoke about the state of the sugar industry and the rice industry and said the government has also failed to keep its promises on developing those industries.
Both sectors have recorded a decline in production this year and are expected to face a similar fate next year.
“All of their promises are lies”, Manickchand said.
She added that “this budget promises the nation prosperity…and that is a big fat lie” The former Education Minister said the budget is nothing more than a short term plan for a year and could best be considered a “stop gap budget”.
“This budget lacks innovation and any plan that will take us anywhere in terms of a long term development plan.”
Manickchand noted that there are too many taxes being raised in the budget. She said the government appears to be thinking that the best way to deal with the economic problems is to get more money from tax payers.
Ms. Manickchand said if the government was serious about growth and development, it would have been talking about a deep water harbour.
“This budget is a waste of time in terms of growth and development, it is useless and lazy”.
Manickchand said medical services will now attract vat and that will mean persons cannot even afford to get a headache “because a panadol will attract 14%”.
She also touched on the education system and the reality that private schools might now have to charge VAT for educating students and even the play dough and crayons that they will need as part of their education teachings will find themselves attracting VAT. She held up a pack play dough and said “you are taxing our children”.
“Mr. Speaker, everything will go up…and that is what our people are facing. This is a brace yourself budget. Brace yourselves for what is to come”.
According to Manickchand, the quality of life will change in Guyana because of an unimaginative government.
She said the budget is not just reflective of the Finance Minister, but rather of the entire APNU+AFC government.
The Government has been defending its budget measures even as many of its own supporters have voiced their concerns about many of the measures in the budget.