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Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister, Kwame McCoy said on Friday that he hopes the APNU+AFC Opposition will turn out to the 2021 Budget debates beginning on Monday and will not disappoint its support base by failing to properly represent them in the National Assembly.
Minister McCoy’s comments were aired on the National Communication Network (NCN) programme ‘Budget in Focus’ where he also criticized the APNU+AFC Opposition as being Guyana’s most corrupt Government.
“I’m hoping that we have the Opposition there who can make its contributions to the debates but…I have a serious fear about the debates coming up and that fear is really about the performance of the Opposition. All across this country you go, you find people lamenting their disappointment about an Opposition that seems to be so much off the target, so much away from the reality, so much into themselves and their own world that they miss the very salient and important aspects of their role,” McCoy put forward.
Further expounding, he said that the Opposition, though it is not in power, ought to represent the people who support them. The last time the APNU+AFC visited Parliament they stayed away from the passage of the Law Reform Commission (Amendment) Bill 2020 and the Deceased Persons Estates’ Administration (Amendment) Bill.
That same day, President Irfaan Ali made his inaugural address and the Opposition was absent. Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon later wrote to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Manzoor Nadir stating that Members of the APNU+AFC Opposition were shut in and locked out during the address by members of the Guyana Police Force (GPF).
During this period of being locked out and shut-in, some Opposition Members participated in a protest against the President’s presence to address Parliament.
However, at a press conference on Tuesday, Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon give all indication that the Opposition will be attending the budget debates to highlight the flaws of Budget 2021 and the key allocations left out.
“Budget 2021 is mostly vacuous and meaningless. Budget is meant to be a template for development but is a testimony to the disarray in the Government,” Harmon said, likely setting the pace for the Opposition’s arguments to come.
Meanwhile, Minister McCoy said that, from the PPP/C’s end, Guyanese can expect “very good debaters” who understand the subject and are ready to defend the allocations within the Budget.
He predicted that the Opposition will raise the issue of salary increases for public servants which he said would be a weak argument if brought to the House. He said that the Opposition should be aware that specific wages and salary increases could not be announced in the Budget as this is subject first to bargaining with Unions contrasted by what the Government can afford.
“I hope that the Opposition comes very prepared. They come with some very vacuous statements. Oh, they come about corruption, they come about all sorts of things but there has been no Government in this country that has had the brand of corruption more than the APNU+AFC Government. The brand of corruption as if it was made for them,” Minister McCoy said.
“We [the PPP/C] are about listening, we are about working for people and we’re about making Guyana a proud, successful, progressive country.”
On February 12, 2021, Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh made a four-hour long presentation to the National Assembly unveiling a historic $383.1 billion national budget. It is Guyana’s largest fiscal plan to date, themed ‘A Path to Recovery, Economic Dynamism and Resilience’.