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|In wake of ‘naked,vulgar’ budget cuts…|
|Monday, 30 April 2012 23:18|
Finance Minister says opposition in ‘mad rush’ to put up smokescreens
- “We must not let them stymie development”
GOVERNMENT continues to vehemently condemn the unjustified cuts made to the 2012 national budget by the combined opposition of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC). Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh reiterated his concerns regarding almost $21B cuts in crucial areas of development by the opposition.
Yesterday, at a press conference at the Finance Ministry in Georgetown, Dr Singh said the combined opposition parliamentary parties had demolished the 2012 national budget by cutting significant programmes, including more than $18B in projects under the country’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), which has received widespread national support and international acclaim; and slashed the allocations to agencies such as the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU), the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC), State Planning Secretariat, National Communications Network (NCN), the Government Information Agency (GINA) and the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), putting scores of persons on the breadline.
Minister Singh said he is pleased that substantial parts of the national budget were passed intact, without any adjustment, and that those programmes can now proceed unimpeded.
“Those cuts, having been made, you now have a mad rush by the opposition to somehow put up smokescreens to mask the vulgarity of the actions that they took in parliament. You have all manner of spurious and ridiculous explanations being offered. You have all manner of ridiculous justifications being attempted, but none of these explanations they have made can withstand the test of scrutiny,” he stated.
“What you had, and what we were treated to, was a naked and vulgar display of political power being wielded by an opposition that is clearly not interested in national development; and has no difficulty frustrating national development, or sacrificing national development at the altar of their own political ambitions,” the Finance Minister asserted.
The people of Guyana are understandably outraged, and rightly so, he said, noting that the cuts are to programmes which would benefit the people of this country “in one way or another”, alluding to the LCDS, as well as the cutting of the subsidy to GPL by $1B, and also reducing certain agencies’ allocations to $1.
Noting that there is an explanation that government can always come back to the National Assembly with a supplementary budget, the Finance Minister declared: “The opposition (parties) conduct does not inspire any measure of confidence that they will conduct themselves in a rational manner were we to return to the parliament with a request for supplementary funding.”
In this regard, the Finance Minister pointed to the behaviour of APNU and the AFC in relation to Financial Papers Numbers 7 and 8, concluding that: “To say that we may come back with a supplementary is an absurdity.”
Touching on the LCDS, Minister Singh reminded that this is a nationally endorsed strategy, and parliament had unanimously approved a motion endorsing the LCDS in December 2009.
“What is the opposition saying to the international community?” the Finance Minister questioned, as he pointed out that those parties’ actions speak volumes.
“Here you have two political parties, who clearly have no difficulty derailing national development in pursuit of the cause of their own political aims, wielding the tyrannical scissors using the slender majority of one…and to apply that tyrannical scissors to the budget and cut projects that are in the interest of the people of Guyana. (It is) the height of parliamentary irresponsibility, in my opinion,” Minister Singh maintained.
Minister Singh also addressed residents of Leonora, West Coast Demerara, later last evening, on the implications of the reckless actions of the combined opposition in cutting crucial projects in the national budget, and how it can affect the development of the country.
He assured that government will not allow APNU and the AFC to frustrate development in the country, pointing out that there has been significant progress made over the years.
Dr. Singh said government needed to be alert and to ensure that the people of Guyana understand the implications of what is taking place; and the people needed to be able to speak in an informed manner about the issues currently taking place in the country. “We must not let them stymie development,” Minister Singh cautioned.
Minister of Housing and Water, Irfaan Ali, at whose Leonora office the forum took place, also expressed his concerns with the move by the opposition.
“I think young people especially are hurt about this situation, with scores of employees on the breadline,” he told the gathering.
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