Budget Debate: Norton floats reduced tax, improved literacy

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Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton, whose party while in government saddled Guyanese with numerous additional taxes, including on water and schooling, Friday spoke of the need for reduced taxes as he outlined other measures he suggested would see “people-centered” development.

Mr. Norton, in an hour-long presentation, wrapped up the 2024 Budget Debates.

Norton, leader of the PNC, the largest party in the APNU Coalition, projected initiatives to help alleviate poverty and ease the high cost-of-living. He didn’t specify what measures would achieve those goals but said such solutions were offered in his budget debate presentation last year.

With elections on the horizon, Norton said if the APNU is returned to government, “Guyanese can look forward to a significant reduction in tax under the next APNU+AFC government.”

During last year’s debates, he said APNU + AFC, if in government, would lower Value Added Tax (VAT) to 12 per cent.

Beyond those ventures, Mr. Norton said there must be a huge focus on financial literacy to help Guyanese manage their funds better and to facilitate smarter investments, including through engaging the local stock market. With better financial habits, he also believed people will be able to cope better with the high cost of living.

“Our citizens must also be educated in the benefits of investing.. And the general benefits of making use of the financial system,” he emphasised.

The Opposition Leader also suggested the expansion of technical training programmes and support for learners who might have dropped out of school. Though such programmes may already exist in schools, Mr. Norton said similar ventures are needed in communities to target those persons who may have already dropped out of the formal schooling system.

Furthermore, Mr. Norton said there must be a focus on expanding the capacity of the economy to produce more be it in the agriculture or manufacturing sectors.

Mr Norton’s comments came after all of the Government Parliamentarians chastised the APNU+AFC coalition government for barely improving people’s lives and squandering public funds while in office from 2015 to 2020.

Earlier in the day, Attorney General Anil Nandlall highlighted that the APNU+AFC’s five national budgets from 2015 to 2020 are just about the same size as the 2024 trillion-budget, though with less to show.

“What did the APNU/AFC do with GY$1.3 trillion in five years?

“D’Urban Park is accommodating 12 donkeys, 10 horses, and 13 vagrants and you spent over $2 billion. You built it and $600 million still cannot be accounted for,” Nandlall said during his stinging rebuke of the APNU+AFC coalition government.

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