Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
…Forde says estimates will further saddle Guyanese with huge debt
By Svetlana Marshall
Describing the $383.1B National Budget as ordinary, flat and unimaginative, Opposition Member of Parliament, Roysdale Forde, SC, said while failing to offer Guyana equitable economic and social transformation, the Budget creates the largest deficit in the history of the country – totalling some $106.651B.
As he opened Monday’s Debate on the multibillion budget proposed by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government, the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Member of Parliament said the 2021 Budget, like the 2011 Budget, is anti-working class in nature.
“Mr. Speaker, this Budget, Budget 2021, is a mere continuation of the same trickle down approach to the economic management of Guyana by the Peoples Progressive Party,” MP Forde told the House.
He said it would appear that the Irfaan Ali Administration, in crafting the budget shun the recommendations made by the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) while heeding to the requests of the Private Sector.
“The Guyana Trades Union Congress stated that its priorities were- a reduction in national borrowing – was it granted? NO; a reduction in concessions given to the private sector – was it granted? NO; the erasure of the deficit of the National Insurance Scheme – was it granted? NO; the immediate restoration of the constitutional right to free education at the tertiary level– was it granted? NO,” the Senior Counsel told the House. He said on the other hand, all the requests made by the Private Sector were granted.
MP said to further compound the situation, it would appear that the PPP/C Government intends on borrowing to fund the deficit. “Mr. Speaker, for the 5 years of the APNU+AFC in Government, the total deficit for those years was $92,000,000,000.00 (Ninety-Two Billion Dollars), last year alone the Budget deficit for the PPP/C was $92,000,000,000.00 (Ninety-Two Billion Dollars) and this year $106,000,000,000.00 (One Hundred and Six Billion Dollars),” the APNU+AFC front bencher detailed.
He added: “So the programme is to borrow and spend, borrow and spend,” as he registered his disapproval. MP Forde said to date, the Minister has not informed the House how much of the Budget will be financed by loans.
Since taking Office on August 2, 2020, the PPP/C Administration has accused the APNU+AFC Administration of poorly managing the economy but MP Forde told the House that the Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh, by his own admission, indicated that the economy grew by a whopping 43.5 percent in 2020.
“This, Mr. Speaker, is a testimony to the management of the economy of this country and policies introduced by the A Partnership For National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU +AFC). This economic growth delivered to the people of this country by the APNU +AFC offers to them the hope and expectation of an equitable economic and social transformation of Guyana,” he told members on both sides of the House.
According to MP Forde, the country’s economy flourished during the APNU+AFC’s five years in office, with only the Sugar Industry, for the productive sectors, contracting in the past 4 years due to the mismanagement on the part of the PPP/C.
“The other productive industries expanded, on average, in the past 5 years. There was notable growth in other crops, gold, other mining and quarrying, petroleum and gas, and support services; rice manufacturing; electricity supply; accommodation and food services; financial and insurance activities; professional, scientific and technical services; and human health and social work. These expanded, on average, in the past 5 years, by 5.5 percent, 12.7 percent, 14.9 percent, 119.4 percent, 6 percent, 4.2 percent, 4.5 percent, 4 percent, 4.1 percent and 4.9 percent, respectively,” he detailed.
Further, he said the real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) level for each industry, from 2014 to 2019, increased, except for the sugar, forestry, and rice industries which contracted by a mere 0.1 percent.
“These include other crops; livestock; gold; other mining and quarrying; petroleum and gas, and support services; rice manufacturing, electricity supply; water supply and sewerage; transport and storage; accommodation and food services; financial and insurance activities; professional, scientific and technical services; administrative and support services; public administration; and human health and social work. These increased by 28.6 percent, 15.4 percent, 63.8 percent; 72.7 percent, 3,679 percent; 19.8 percent; 22.8 percent; 17.4 percent; 17.9 percent; 24.5 percent; 21.6 percent; 22.4 percent; 18.9 percent; 17.7 percent; and 26.8 percent, respectively. This could hardly be called a case for recovery from trauma,” MP Forde said as he schooled his colleagues on the other side of the House on the economic grown the country experienced under the APNU+AFC Administration.
The economic measures, employed by the David Granger Administration, he said financially empowered the regular man in the street.
“It was not the PPP/C trickle-down economics that led to increases in wages and salaries, old-age pensions and social assistance. It was also not the same old PPP/C trickle-down economics which resulted in significant growth in the public sector minimum wage. These increases led to higher household income, particularly among those earning within the lowest income brackets, thereby reducing poverty – the public sector minimum wage increased by over 70 percent between 2015 and 2019, to reach $70,000. In addition, expenditure on old-age pensions and social assistance increased by 26.4 percent in 2019 when compared with 2016, reaching $14.8 billion – between 2015 and 2019 old-age pensions increased by 56.2 percent to reach $20,500.00,” he told the House.
Turning back the pages of history, MP Forde pointed the state of the economy under the Jagdeo Presidency. For him, Jagdeo’s first five years in Office was a “complete disaster.”
“In contrast, the Granger Administration grew the economy three times faster than Jagdeo Administration ever did,” MP Forde said as he offered the House a comparative analysis.
Growth Rate (%)
Growth Rate (%)
He added: “When the Honourable Member Jagdeo inherited the economy from the Jagans, 31% of the GDP was in productive capacity according to World Bank data. By the time Granger Administration came to power, Guyana’s productive capacity was below 25%. In other words, the people of Guyana could only use 25 percent of GDP to invest instead of 31 percent. During those hard times, Honourable Member Jagdeo and the PPP/C introduced VAT. Now, they are pretending that they are Protesters against VAT.”
He reminded the House that it was the APNU+AFC, in 2015, that reduced VAT from 16% to 14% and stabilized the economy. Further, the Opposition Member reminded that it was the Coalition Government which had lowered the income tax while increasing the minimum wage for public servants and even the private sector.