(GUYANA CHRONICLE) – Opposition Leader David Granger says he has recognised the difficulties that Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh has had in putting together the 2012 national budget, noting that it is a complex one.
Granger, in his presentation on the final day yesterday of the budget 2012 debate in the National Assembly, said the Opposition has recognised the challenges in putting together the important document, hence their insistence in working together on the matter.
He spoke of plans to have a Parliamentary Budget Committee set up, possibly in the coming year. This, he said, will allow and enable greater collaboration and input from a wider cross section of the House.
With this in mind, Granger believes that consultation can still take place, noting that A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) does not want a collision but only wants to get the budget right. He opined that collaboration is not an option with the new dispensation in Parliament, but rather an obligation.
Granger said the ruling party cannot do it all by itself, but only through collaboration; hence he extended APNU’s hand to work along with the government. With regard to the 2012 estimates, the Opposition leader noted that they are not only concerned about figures, but about policies as well.
He told the House that citizens are concerned about five basic freedoms, which are freedom from fear, freedom from poverty, freedom from ignorance, freedom from discrimination, and freedom to communicate and receive ideas. Additionally, he expressed the view that there is a disconnect between the promises and the provisions in the estimates, and issued a call for the government to craft a budget in a way that the people want.
“APNU wants to see a budget that starts the process of transformation”, he said. Granger is of the view that the budget must place more emphasis on unlocking people’s potential, education, and employment, among other things.
“We are not here to knock the Administration but to sit and talk with them; we’ve come out of that era of cuss down and buse-down and into an era of consultation”, Granger said.
According to him, APNU is prepared to engage with the Administration to ensure that the budget satisfies the needs of the people. “We will work night and day to ensure that it happens,” he said.
Meanwhile, Alliance For Change leader, Khemraj Ramjattan, also recognised the challenges that the Finance Minister had in putting together the budget, noting that the party will support any budget or economic programme that offers opportunities for all Guyanese.
He believes that in today’s society, it is a challenging task to come up with such a document, adding that it would be unprincipled of the AFC if it does not ask for a change in certain aspects of the budget.
While Ramjattan admitted that over the years Guyana has experienced tremendous growth, he also opined that the country could have been further developed. “Indeed, there is a new dispensation, and we want to work with government,” Ramjattan assured the House.
He told the National Assembly that the AFC wants to ensure that it embraces the government in moving the country forward. He called for a reform of the tax system, education and other areas that are critical to the development of the people. Ramjattan also criticised the Administration for “illegal tax waiver, unnecessary spending, and violating the constitution in many regards.”