Budget 2018 is most disastrous – Jagdeo
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has described the 2018 National Budget as the most disastrous he has ever seen, noting that the policies and measures have failed on every imaginable standard.
He made those initial remarks during a press conference immediately after the more than three-hour long presentation of the $267.1B budget by Finance Minister, Winston Jordan.
“We came in with hopes that the Minister would have addressed the key issues of concern to people and he has failed on every one of those parameters,” the Opposition Leader said.
According to Jagdeo, the Finance Minister failed to address issues surrounding jobs, welfare, a framework for growth and development and overall clarity of government’s vision of where the country is headed.
He noted that the announcements in the budget are “basically work programmes” of various ministries and agencies rather than the administration’s vision for the upcoming year.
“(Jordan) seemed to have taken from almost every single ministry their routine work programme and read their work programmes out to the nation, things that are day to day work that you don’t even focus on in a budget presentation,” he stated, noting that the budget significantly fell short of being inspiring.
“This sort of thing is not what it takes to inspire a country to produce, to expand welfare, to generate jobs,” he stated.
Particularly, Jagdeo criticised the meagre increase of $500 to old age pension, the fact that the economy failed to meet the revised target for 2017 and the impending increases in taxes for the citizenry.
On the economic performance, the Opposition Leader posited that the 2.9% growth confirmed his contentions that the economy is failing under this administration. The economy was projected to grow by 3.8% but this was revised by midyear to 3.1%, however, neither target was met.
The government had also announced that it will explore the possibility of updating the value of lands so that property owners will pay higher taxes to the municipalities and Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs).
“So although he said there are no new taxes in the budget, they are introducing a measure, having exhausted the tax measures at the national level, they are now taking this to the NDCs and municipalities across the country,” Jagdeo lamented.
The Opposition Leader said he will be commenting more on the budget after he gets to critically assess the measures and policies.
The 2018 National Budget was presented under the theme: “The Journey to the Good Life Continues.”