Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has indicated that he will once again boycott the annual budget consultations with the government if it fails to provide him with certain requested information for him to propose alternative budgetary policies.
Jagdeo emphasised that the Finance Minister Winston Jordan already knows the Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C’s) stance on the tax regime and other budgetary measures and therefore the Party has no reason to attend consultations to just “give our views and walk away”.
According to the former President, he wants to contribute meaningfully to the preparation of a budget that can achieve national prosperity without heavily taxing the population.
“We believe that there is a framework for fiscal management that can be differently constructed that will allow this economy to grow, that will have a supportive monetary policy that is conducive to access to capital without being inflationary. But to do all of this, we need background information,” Jagdeo told reporters during his press conference yesterday (June 27, 2017).
The Opposition Leader said he wants to review projections and actual data in order to “do the technical work necessary to have an alternative budget constructed to ensure people’s welfare comes first.”
The PPP has failed to attend the consultations with the government ahead of the preparation of the previous years’ national budgets however it was quick to criticize the budgetary measures.
Following the presentation of the 2017 National Budget, widespread protests had erupted over several tax measures – most famously being the protests against VAT on private education which is still ongoing.
The Government has since promised to review that particular measure during the formulation of its 2018 National Budget which it hopes to present before the end of 2017.
In fact, the Finance Minister has promised to review all the tax measures which were introduced this year during the preparation of next year’s budget.
Some of the measures which have been condemned include VAT on private tuition, the 2 percent withholding tax, tributors’ tax on the mining sector, VAT on the tourism sector, VAT on some aspects of private healthcare, VAT on electricity and water, and the expansion of the list of exempt items which saw the tax now being charged on school supplies, funeral services, among other critical commodities.