‘These people want to run a country?’ – Finance Minister blazes APNU+AFC’s poor contribution to Budget Debate


Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh wrapped up the 2023 Budget Debate on Friday but spent his lengthy presentation blazing the APNU+AFC Members of Parliament (MPs) for failing to meaningfully add to the discourse and their unrealistic promises to people.

“The nation continues to be regaled by this pathetic display of ineptitude and incompetence.

“…The people of Guyana were reminded why they decided to put the APNU+AFC in Opposition,” Dr. Singh said.

One striking occurrence, Dr. Singh said, was the inability of the APNU+AFC lawmakers to agree on a single position heading into the debate. As such, some MPs advocated in favour of expanded relief measures included in the budget, like cash grants, while others believed that these measures should not be pursued at all.

Then, he spent much time dissecting the presentation made by Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton.

Norton wrapped up the Opposition’s contributions to the debate on Friday, outlining numerous areas of improvement the APNU+AFC would pursue if it were in government.

Among the initiatives he spoke about were plans to increase salaries by 50 per cent, lower Value Added Tax (VAT) from 14 per cent to 12 per cent and institute numerous waivers and grants.

He also said that the APNU+AFC would initiate several studies to objectively determine the state of affairs in Guyana so that appropriate measures can be tailored.

But Dr. Singh accused Norton of only “selling pipe dreams”.

“The people of Guyana are watching… while the APNU+AFC is promising you a plan, we are promising you the roads and we are building them,” he retorted.

The Finance Minister also questioned how Norton would fund these initiatives especially since he appeared to favour the rapid spending of revenues instead of saving and planning for the future.

Such actions, Dr. Singh said, were impractical.

And so he simply asked, “These people want to run a country?”

Throughout the week, the lawmakers debated the 2023 National Budget. Government MPs and Deputy Speaker Lenox Shuman signalled their support for the $781.9 billion sum.

Contrastingly, the APNU+AFC Opposition Parliamentarians did not approve of the budget, arguing that the government could do better to bring relief to people.

The Finance Minister, however, explained that the government tried its best to manage current needs with long-term planning. It was, for this reason, the budget was crafted in the manner it was.

And he backed the measures implemented to bring direct relief to people while highlighting that spending on big projects is necessary to herald Guyana’s new phase of development.

“Just like a responsible family will spend some of what they are earning on their needs today, they will also be spending and investing on the things that matter to the future and stash some away for a rainy day, this PPP/C government will do the same,” Dr. Singh said.

This year’s budget is the largest ever in Guyana’s history and it is partly financed by Guyana’s new oil resources.

Revenues from Guyana’s forest-saving payments have also been included and will fund national development priorities and programmes from Indigenous communities.

With the Budget Debate now concluded, the consideration of the Budget Estimates will take place from Monday. After that process, the lawmakers will vote on the budget.

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