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– Jordan gives PPP’s budget ‘F’ Grade
…says estimates a payback to business community
Former Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan has graded the People’s Progressive Party/Civic’s (PPP/Cs) 2020 budget as unoriginal, visionless, non-transparent, and merely a “payback” to the business community.
Jordan said that as he was listening to the presentation made by Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill today, he realized that the content was akin to that of collation’s financial plan, save for a few tweaks here and there.
He said that the PPP/C came with no significant ideas of their own and that either speaks to their lack of vision or the ciliation’s pace set for the development of Guyana.
“It was painful listening,” Jordan said, while on a programme hosted by the APNU+AFC. “It started a little after 10 and, as it went its way through hour after hour I realised that I wasn’t hearing anything new, but, more important, what I was hearing sounded eerily familiar with what the coalition government had proposed through its five years. So, if the budget is to be given any kudos, I would say kudos to the fact that they recognized that they had no new policies to bring to the table and therefore they were forced to either use ours in whole, in part, or in subterfuge where a slight deviation was made here and there but, ultimately, the same thing was being said.”
Added to this, the former Finance Minister said that while Edghill painted the picture that the 2020 Budget was concluded within only 21 days, in reality, it is common knowledge that budget preparation begins with the circular being sent out around June and this is prepared and passed before the end of December.
Therefore, he said that that for Edghill to claim that the process only took 21 days is a form of ego-stroking. He said that completing the budget in just 21 days should be viewed as negative as the Constitution gives the Budget three months before it should be passed but the PPP/C did not use a little additional time and rushed to complete it.
“They had a little more time they could have played with where they could have thought things through but, in the event, the sacrificed time and, as a result, got this model hodge-podge that you would have heard today,” he said.
While Minister Edghill’s speech was dotted with numerous political quips Jordan said that it lacked a long-term vision and Guyanese now have no structured idea of the PPP/C/s hopeful plans for the next five years.
He said that, customarily, the President should have addressed the first sitting of the 12th Parliament to outline his government’s five-year plan which would have then guided the presentation of the budget. However, President Irfaan Ali was a no-show at the first Sitting of the National Assembly and Jordan said that Edghill just floated through his presentation.
He said: “We don’t know what to expect over this five-year period. There were some statements made here and there, ‘we will improve this, we will make this more efficient’, that’s all you’re hearing but there is no sequencing of a broad vision.”
Also, the Former Finance Minister said that an entire section of the budget should have been dedicated to COVID-19 to address the immediate needs impacting both businesses and people but this was imbedded into different parts of the speech with no outlined. Jordan said that citizens should have had a clear idea of exactly how much money was being injected into the COVID fight in its collective.
“But you do not know which one is COVID related in case of an emergency later, which ones are standard budget measures that will go from year-to-year,” he said. Added to that, Jordan said that several measures announced have not been associated with a cost and will likely have expenditure and revenue implications that have not been disclosed.
He assessed: “Everybody can shout to the public and say ‘yes, water is free for pensioners’ but nothing is free my friend. In the budget cycle, nothing is free. Every free water that is given to the pensioners, a subsidy from the budget has to be given to the GWI. I was taking a quick look into the estimates and I could not find a line that says water subsidy to GWI for pensioners.”
He reminded, too, that while “free water” sounds good, it will only be given to pensioners who have a meter in their name and does not specifically cater to the poor with no meter in his/her name, but a millionaire pensioner with a meter will benefit. Jordan said that this is why his government put the water and electricity subsidy in the pension so that meter or no meter, pensioners would benefit.
Jordan also rapped the budget as “divisive and discriminatory” as it seeks to promote development to one section of society over the other. He dubbed the budget as a “great budget for the business people” and a “reward budget” for the private sector for their close ties with the PPP/C during the elections.
“The poor people aren’t smiling; the pensioners aren’t smiling because they have gotten nothing for 2020. What will they will get is from 2021,” he said.
This week the PPP/C disclosed that the size of Budget 2020 is $329.5 billion, which is 9.6 percent, or $28.8 billion, above that of 2019. However, Jordan pointed out that the budget deficit is now $75.9 billion as a result of “misguided nonsensical policies” of those inexperienced in properly managing the financial affairs of the country.