GEORGETOWN, Guyana, November 29, 2016 (CMC) – Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, has described the GUY$250 billion (One Guyana dollar =US$0.004 cents) budget, presented by Finance Minister, Winston Jordan, as “the worst I have ever seen”.
Jagdeo, a former finance minister, said that the fiscal package was ominous and that not much thought had gone into its formation.
The Guyana government, on Monday, presented a GUY$250 billion (One Guyana dollar =US$0.004 cents) budget to Parliament, outlining a series of new taxes and reducing the Value Added Tax (VAT) by two percent.
Jordan told legislators that the fiscal package acknowledges what this administration inherited 18 months ago, and what the David Granger government has attempted to do to stabilise the economy and lay the groundwork for diversification using the green pathway.
“The constraints have been many, not least among them being the drain of public resources by a collapsing sugar company,” Jordan said, adding “this has created more urgencies in our quest to reorient the economy, creating a robust and resilient one that transcends the traditional growth pole”.
Jordan said an estimated 63,000 old age pensioners will benefit as a result of their allowances moving to GUY$19,000 as well as GUY$7,500 in public assistance.
Jordan also announced that there would be a reduction in the VAT from 16 to 14 per cent, but noted that electricity and water supply will now attract the 14 per cent VAT.
He said however, that only persons whose monthly electricity bills surpass GUY$10,000 will have to pay the VAT and only persons whose water use bill surpasses GUY$1500 per month will have to pay the VAT on those bills.
But Jagdeo, a former head of state, criticised the removal of VAT on electricity and water once the bill goes over a certain amount, saying that the budget caters more for the rich than ordinary Guyanese.
Jagdeo told reporters he would have been happier to see a fiscal package that was more supportive of efforts to spur economic growth and encourage investments.
“As we got to the latter part of the budget, particularly when he announced the measures, I changed that assessment to immensely ominous for the future of Guyana, for the future of job creation and growth, and business development and for the future of welfare and growth in benefits to ordinary people,” Jagdeo said.
Jagdeo said the budget was filled with lots of old rehashed information and his party would highlight these issues when the debate begins on December 5.