Budget measures are fulfilling manifesto promises -PM Nagamootoo

GINA, GUYANA, Friday, December 9, 2016

Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo said the government will not be distracted by “antics” and “walk outs” as it works over the next few years to fulfil its manifesto promises.

The Prime Minister commended the Finance Minister for bringing “a different budget at a difficult time” on the final day of debates on the 2017 national budget in the National Assembly, today.

“We have brought a budget with measures that can streamline our legal system, our tax collection system brings measures that may not be popular, but are necessary in the interest of Guyana,” the Prime Minister told a half -empty National Assembly. The opposition side of the House did not return from the break following the presentation by Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo.

Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo

Responding to the opposition leader’s presentation, PM Nagamootoo pointed out it was “vintage” Jagdeo. “He cuss up, he buse down, he cut and he ran,” the PM said.

The Prime Minister also called out the Opposition Leader for his insincerity over the support he pledged in relation to the settlement of the border controversy with Venezuela. PM Nagamootoo cited newspaper articles where Jagdeo indicated conceding maritime space to the neighbouring country.

“Today, when you hear the same honourable gentleman in this House saying that he and his party are unwaveringly on the side of Guyana, he could not have been speaking about our beloved Guyana because the national ethos…should have been not one blade of grass, not one curass,” PM Nagamootoo said.

Addressing Jagdeo’s condemnation of the budget, the Prime Minister pointed out that the opposition is afraid of the investigations into the “ratonomics” that was led by Jagdeo during his tenure as president. Jagdeo called budget 2017 “the worst budget ever”.

PM Nagamootoo noted that the government does not intend to sleep on its job and will defend the people “and lead this country into the better life”. He noted that the 2017 budget intends to build a diversified green economy.

Meanwhile, addressing opposition Member of Parliament Clement Rohee’s claims that criminals are “running amok” in the country, the Prime Minister pointed out that “it was under his watch that criminals were provided with guns.”

The Prime Minister noted that the crime situation under the helm of the former Home Affairs Minister was much worse, and questioned why he would want to condemn the current administration which introduced “so much measures” to safeguard and protect the people.

In the 18 months they have been in government, PM Nagamootoo pointed out that piracy has been reduced, “an unprecedented large amount” of drugs was intercepted and illegal airstrips were shut down among other areas of reduction in crime.

The Prime Minister stressed the need to protect young people from “hard drugs” and the economy from “dirty money”.

“We need to have a clean economy, a law governed economy and promote relationships that would make us all proud Guyanese,” PM Nagamootoo said.

The Prime Minister pointed out that the opposition over the past week of debates only came with “venom with elements of vindictiveness” against the budget. Over the week various opposition members accused the government of killing the sugar industry, imposing harsh taxation measures on the people and failing to consult with stakeholders.

PM Nagamootoo noted that the government inherited a sugar industry “that was already placed on the death bed, shackled with a chain.” He said,  “We are taking this deliberate action in the interest of the sugar workers,” the Prime Minister said of the measures to be taken to address the industry.

The government is expected to make its pronouncement on the fate of the industry at a subsequent time, but has made provisions of $9B in the 2017 budget to bail out the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo).

As for the opposition’s outcry against the reduced value added tax (VAT), PM Nagamootoo said, “They are jumping all over the place…” The Prime Minister said that the opposition’s political credibility will suffer when it is proven in the new year that VAT will not affect the people as is being peddled by the opposition.

The budget will see the new 14 percent VAT added to electricity and water consumption in excess of $10,000 and $1,500 respectively, monthly.

The Prime Minister noted that all these measures are part of fulfilling manifesto promises. PM Nagamootoo pointed out that the government has lowered the VAT, raised the VAT threshold from $10M to $15M affording small businesses a chance to thrive, reduce the Berbice bridge toll and improve the administration of several government agencies as some of the manifesto promises fulfilled.

By Tiffny Rhodius