VP Jagdeo raps anti-poor policies of APNU+AFC’s 2015-2020 term

Many Opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) have, since Monday, premised their speeches in the National Assembly on the argument that the government’s 2022 budget is anti-poor.

But Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo said if one were to examine their policies as a government prior to 2020, the opposition’s current posturing could only be described as “barefacedness.”

Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo

During an afternoon press conference at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre on Thursday, Dr. Jagdeo detailed the anti-poor policies and how they have since been addressed by the new PPP/C Government.

“It’s the barefacedness that really troubles me when people talk about pro-poor and you could increase the fees and taxes, 200 fees and taxes on a single budget. You recall the infamous Jordan budget, where everything was increased, all the licencing fees, some moving by 400-600%.”

He said the cumulative value of the many taxes imposed by APNU+AFC was $40 billion in 2020, but would have been $50 billion now.

“And they talk about being pro-poor, and pro-farmers, and then you remember, increasing taxes on fertiliser, on pesticides, on the poor farmers. These are poor people too, who are barely struggling to make a living… to increase their land and water charges by 300%.”

Otherwise, as pointed out by the Vice President, the coalition took away the $10,000 Because We Care cash grant, which the PPP/C restored and extended to private schools. It has since been increased to $25,000 in 2022, on its way to $50,000 at the end of this government’s first term.

Increases were also made to the school uniform allowance, pension and public assistance. Dr. Jagdeo said these measures, altogether with the Because We Care grant, represent $14 billion more for the Guyanese people that the coalition did not give.

The government so far provided 6,000 Guyana Online Academy of Learning (GOAL) scholarships, with an investment of $1 billion, and has budgeted an additional $1.3 billion to finance 4,500 more scholarships.

The PPP/C Government also restored 2,000 community service officers to Indigenous communities, after the Coalition government laid them off. Dr. Jagdeo said that the coalition’s action took $700 million away from those village economies. This year, the government intends to increase the number of CSOs to 2,500.

The Vice President said the new government gave out more house lots in the past two years than the coalition did in its entire term, and has budgeted enough money to prepare infrastructure for about 30,000 house lots.

The government is also working to mitigate tax disparities between locals and foreigners in the oil and gas sector, which made it difficult for Guyanese companies to compete for contracts. The Vice President reminded that this issue was complained about by the private sector for years, but that it fell on deaf ears under the coalition government.

While the cost of living remains an issue, the Vice President reminded that government has budgeted $5 billion to address cost of living, and will work to get to the bottom of it.