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Member of Parliament (M.P) Ganesh Mahipaul started off his speech by thanking Speaker Manzoor Nadir. He mentioned that the Honourable Dr. Jennifer Westford took her leave but after listening to Hon. Sonia Parag, he felt it best that Dr. Westford returned.
“Knowing that Honourable Dr. Jennifer Westford is a current Member of Parliament I believe it is in the best interest of the PPP and the people of Guyana to bring back Jenny and let Sonia take a backseat,” said Mahipaul.
He further said, “Comrade Speaker, I rise before you today as a proud representative of the people standing on the righteous side of this Honourable Assembly and it is my privilege to make my humble contribution to Budget 2023. I would like to begin offering my congratulations to the competent staff at the Ministry of Finance for their hard work in preparing this budget, however as I listened to the Senior Minister within the Office of the President with responsibilities for finance presentation it became clear that the utopian rhetoric and clever use of Statistics do not mask the reality of the dire state of our nation’s people under the current PPP/C government.”
“Mr. Speaker, we are now entering the 3rd full year of this current regime’s tenure, albeit installed, and by the end of 2023 our country will expand a staggering $1.8 trillion. This is an unprecedented amount of money for such a short period of time. Yet the question remains: what is the quality of life for our citizens? This budget gives the true meaning of the quote ‘don’t judge a book by its cover, read the pages and know the real story’,” he mentioned.
Further, he implored the members of the government to set aside politics for a moment and consider the plight of the ordinary three citizens who look at the vendors who are forced out of their livelihoods in the dead of night while they slept comfortably in their beds with security at their homes.
“Look at the deplorable state of the roads in housing schemes where people with small vehicles are forced to bear the expense of maintenance while you parade along in luxury Vehicles paid for by taxpayers look at the people of Mocha.
“Speak to the ordinary man and woman on the street and ask them how they are coping under your regime as political leaders, it is crucial that they leave the comfort of their air-conditioned offices and truly immerse themselves in the struggles of their constituency, they must hear first-hand the tales of inadequate Health. Care delivery, the scarcity of essential medicines, the lengthy wait times for medical attention, they must listen to the grievances of political appointees,” M.P. Mahipaul stated.
“In the regional health system and how their actions are making the lives of career public servants unbearable. They must learn about the challenges facing the University of Guyana and how lecturers are seeking to flee from this broken education system. They must hear the concerns of teachers who are lacking adequate classroom facilities; they must listen to the thousands of people who have already paid the Ministry of Housing and Water for plots of land but remain in the dark about their location due to a lack of demarcation and infrastructure.
“They must hear about the trucks that have been distributing baby chicks and chicken feed to the PPP party members for the $ 300 million Small Business develop government fund, and listen to the complaints of the ministry’s staff members about the lack of structure in place for spending that money. They must hear the concerns of the people on the street who have dubbed Honourable Susan Rodriguez as the wealthiest minister in government and her ties to contractors and companies.”
M.P. Mahipaul mentioned that the government must hear the complaints of the Region 8 Regional Democratic Council (RDC) about the Hon. Pauline Sookhai’s presence at every RDC meeting in the Parkarimas, where she instructs the Council on what to do and what not to do.
“They must hear the voices of the staff members at Human Services and Social Security who no longer wish for Hon. Dr. Vindhya Persaud’s presence. I urge you all to listen to the voices of the ordinary citizens and to ask yourself a simple question: will there be a place in heaven for you when your time in this world is done? When the people you are entrusted to serve and make life easier for are suffering under the weight of this punishing cost of living? Will God be pleased to know that you are living a life of luxury on the backs of taxpayers who are struggling to make ends meet,” he added.
“The PPP/C regime’s tyrannical behaviour in their deliberate exclusion of the main political Opposition in the budget creation process is a blatant violation of the principles of good governance and democratic consultation as outlined in Article 13 of our constitution. Their actions are a blatant disregard for the voices and opinions of the more than half of the population who continue to support the opposition. This tyrannical behaviour is not only a violation of our democratic principles, but it is also a squandering of taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars.
“Instead of fostering an inclusive democracy that truly represents the will of the people, this regime since 2020 is defined by mismanagement and corruption and is leading our country to the brink of a class crisis that threatens our future prosperity as “One People One Nation One Destiny.” The discovery of significant reserves presents an incredible opportunity for Guyana to secure its future but this government’s inability to manage our resources responsibly which means that the beneficial economic boom is not being felt by the absolute majority of Guyanese people,” M.P. Mahipaul added.
He stated, “It is a travesty that under the PPP/C the people of Guyana have not seen the fruits of their own labour and resources the widening wealth gap and increased poverty in our nation is a dire result of this government’s failure to prioritise the welfare of its citizens as we stand on the cusp of this economic boom it is crucial that we demand accountability and transparency from the squatters in government in the management of these resources the future of Guyana depends on it.
“We need a legal government that prioritises the needs of citizens regardless of race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status and uses this economic opportunity to spur inclusive growth, reduce poverty, and create jobs for all. Together we must demand a government that works for the people and not just for the select a few. It is clear that the PPP government’s rhetoric of ‘one Guyana’ is nothing but a shallow political ploy their actions revealed a harsh reality that we are in fact seven distinct Guyana, each with its own set of struggles and injustices- the Amerindians have their own, the Europeans have theirs, the Africans have the worst, the Portuguese have their own, the East Indians have the best, the Chinese have their own, and the mixed race is struggling to find theirs. “
M.P. Mahipaul used the recent treatment of the African community at Cane View Mocha on the East Bank of Demerara as a prime example of this government’s disregard for the rights and well-being of certain groups in our society the inspite of children, crying mothers, weeping families being forcibly removed from their homes by government bulldozers and excavators.
He noted, “It is nothing short of a human rights violation. I saw with my own eyes the ruthless and indiscriminate destruction of the homes and livelihood of innocent people by the operator of the excavation equipment, the operator with no regard for the lives and well-being of the people demolished homes and cruelly crushed everything in its path in some cases even digging a hole and burying the personal belongings of the affected families the site was truly heart-wrenching. I watched helplessly as a hard-working businesswoman who is also a mother lost her home and her business in a matter of minutes.”
“They also destroyed a large quantity of Banks DIH beverage products from a small business owner. We cannot allow this kind of inhumanity and disregard for the rights of the people to continue. It is a sobering reminder of the urgent need for real change and a government that truly represents the interests of the people, not the interests of the powerful and the elite.
“We must work together to create a society where everyone has the opportunity to live a dignified life free from the fear of losing their home or their livelihood. Our children sir, deserve better but let it be known that the PPP/C regime is not immune to the power of the people. They are squatting in office, and it is only a matter of time before they are removed from power by the will of the Guyanese people. The excavators and bulldozers that were used to displace the Cane View/Mocha Community will one day be turned against this regime. And they will finally understand the true meaning of one Guyana. A Guyana where all of its people are treated with dignity and respect.
Comrade Speaker, before I go further in my discourse on the continued betrayal of the people of Guyana by the corrupt and irresponsible PPP/C regime let me take a moment to recognise Hon. Ashni Singh. Honourable Minister, I applaud your belated recognition of the importance of paying the Regional Chairman and Regional Vice Chairman their salary increases for the year 2021 and 2022. In December of 2022, however, it is a testament to the failure of this government that such basic responsibilities had not been fulfilled until now,” he mentioned.
“The continued neglect of the Mayors and Deputy Mayors is a glaring example of the government’s misplaced agenda and lack of empathy for the people they were elected to serve. I trust the honourable Minister will see the wisdom in paying the salary increases to our mayors and Deputy Mayors soonest. Just like Regional chairman and regional vice chairman are also full-time Servants of the people, elected by people, for the people. Before addressing the issues at the ministry of Local Government and Regional Development it is imperative that I bring attention to the deplorable behaviour of the PPP regime within the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Guyana.
“As we all know the PAC is a crucial mechanism for holding the government accountable and ensuring transparency in their actions for decades. The committee has met statutorily every Monday with a quorum of any three members. However, in their typical dictatorial fashion, the PPP/C regime has maliciously altered the quorum requiring two members from the government two from the opposition and the Chairman. Mr Speaker, this change has resulted in the cancellation of six meetings due to the government’s absence, stifling the committee’s ability to function.
“This is a clear indication of financial mismanagement and raises serious questions about the ministry’s ability to effectively use the funds allocated to them. Now in 2023 this ministry is requesting approval for a staggering $19 billion in funds. The people of Guyana deserve transparency and accountability for the ministries on the performance in 2022 and must be provided with answers as to how the funds allocated in 2022 were spent.
It is clear that the Minister of Local Government and Regional Development Honourable Nigel Dharamlall should take responsibility for this failure and resign. It is time for a change, a new leadership to take the reins and effectively manage the ministry’s resources and deliver on the key project that positively impact our society. The role of the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development is to provide guidance and oversight to ensure accountability and transparency in the work of all Regional Democratic Councils (RDCs), municipalities and NDCs,” he stated.
M.P. Mahipaul urged the government to re-evaluate their allocation of funds to ensure that elected officials have the resources they need to effectively represent their communities.
“Mr. Speaker, for those who are listening to these debates and may not know what is a slush fund, let me define the term for them – ‘a slush fund is a reserve of money used for illicit purposes, especially political bribery.’ When I read the pages of this Budget it is my firm position that over $15 billion are in various line items as slush funds,” he said.
“Our honourable member, you will need an extension before you do that. Thanks for the definition of slush fund because I’m circulating once again all the parliamentary language. And the meaning you just described there has a lot of it included, so we need an extension so that the honourable member can complete in cleaning up this presentation and conclude,” the Speaker added.
M.P. Mahipaul thanked Mr. Speaker and was given five minutes to conclude his presentation.
He added, “Mr. Speaker, when I read the pages of this budget it is my firm position that over $15 billion are in various line items as slush funds and this was done with the naked eyes so just imagine how high that sum will be when we examine the estimates next week. Unfortunately, time will not allow me to deal with all of the line items but let me touch on a couple. First there is a $300 million for Small Business Development Fund.
“I challenge Minister Oneidge Walrond, honorable of course, to provide to this House the beneficiaries, legal framework, and acceptable financial practice that was used last year to spend the same amount that was approved last year. I am certain there is none and if there is somewhere does it require calling PPP party card bearing members at five o’clock in the morning to some secluded location and give them chicken and chicken feed and say go do business, rare chicken and sell this as a slush fund.”
“Secondly the Men on Mission that Hon. Kwame McCoy is a part of, has a total of $500 million allocated there. This entire country thought that this was an initiative announced by President Ali with cooperation from corporate Guyana contributing to the uplifting of people but now put $500 million of taxpayers’ money towards it. I challenge the government to table in this House the criteria for assistance and how this sum will be disbursed in keeping with the fiscal management and accountability Act of 2003,” Mahipaul said.
“We have the SLED programme (Sustainable, Livelihood, Entrepreneurship and Development) also and we know that there are no established criteria for disbursement. I see another line item dubbed ‘Safety net for vulnerable populations and some Rural Enterprise Development, all with huge sums of monies but with no established criteria and proper accountability, measures to show transparency and inclusivity. These funds are for families, friends and favourites of the PPP/C cabal,” he noted.
In ending his presentation, he noted that, “Guyana is in serious trouble, Comrade Speaker and our children and grandchildren will suffer. As Guyanese, if we want Guyana to grow the People’s Progressive Party (PPP/C) must go. Thank you!”