Even the First Lady is asking for money

first_imgby Anna CorreiaLast week Guyanese were faced with the harsh reality of Budget 2017 which has been imposed upon us by the Government, without consideration for the hardships that accompany our developing society. We watched as the Coalition members and Opposition parliamentarians engaged in a budget debate which, if it weren’t for the expensive fancy suits that most of us cannot afford, was comparable to a melee of pigs. Shame and defeat were perhaps the most stabbing sentiments of disempowerment felt, during a debate which gave the Government another opportunity to barefacedly invent the merits of its anti-poor budget, barricading the Opposition with rhetoric and accusations of failure and deceit.The deliberations on Amerindian development were unsubstantiated by the absence of sustainable measures to secure generational progress. As we listened to Garrido-Lowe blandly read a policy deprived speech, we were jolted from our ennui at one of the most absurd proposals she has yet advanced in the House: Amerindian Hinterland Scholarship Students are now going to learn to speak English by playing Scrabble and would enhance their knowledge in maths by playing chess! This is what policy makers of the Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Ministry and its Projects Department have laid before the nation on December 7, 2016. While Ramjattan plans on doing the job of the Social Protection Ministry by educating some 4000 “troubled youths” through capacity building initiatives and night classes, Amerindians seem to have nothing to look forward to beyond Scrabble and chess in 2017.Later Allicock endorsed his habitual costume of political marionette and spent a good portion of his venomous speech speaking of “segregation” and “induced servitude” by the previous administration, while usurping the credit of the Public Infrastructure Ministry for apparently building better roads. He took pride in announcing the extension of the Amerindian Land Titling Project by two full years, which hopefully, will overcome the failures incurred in attaining project objectives under his leadership. However, he cautiously avoided to address the impact of VAT and the increases in prices for goods and services (announced by several companies last week) on Hinterland inhabitants. He also detracted from accounting for the outstanding HEYS payments to beneficiaries in several regions and made no allusion to higher education and job opportunities for young Amerindians.Neither Ministers presented innovative plans for the future development of their people.Inevitably, those who will feel the backlash of the aggressive, crack-down measures of Budget 2017 are the poorest of our society, a category in which many Amerindian communities find themselves. And although there might be plans from other Government agencies to develop the Hinterland, MoIPA in itself is reluctant to go beyond short-lived handouts to invest in its people’s future. It doesn’t matter that the massive tax increases will provide extra spending money come 2017, to amply allow for creativity.But another who feels that taxes aren’t enough to satisfy the whims of the Government is the First Lady herself, Her Excellency Sandra Granger. Mrs Granger has summoned minions to collect Christmas donations of at least US$1000 from each foreign embassy present in Guyana, to assist her husband in funding bicycles (under the many 3-B programme). There was even a ceremony scheduled for 11:30h on December 6 at the Iwokrama Office in Georgetown, to honour these donations. Never mind that some foreign agencies aren’t authorised to deliver monetary donations, because diplomacy entailed that some Ambassadors find the money anyway, even if it had to come from their pockets! Tax on the diplomatic corps?! Even Guyanese civil society has serious competition now!The architects of Budget 2017 may envisage great plans for Guyana, but these are disproportionate in comparison to what Guyanese people can afford. The austerity measures announced threaten Guyana with poverty, and the condemnation of this budget by both the people and the Private Sector should have been interpreted by now as a warning for the coalition to review its spending habits. But instead, the APNU/AFC has chosen to ignore the will of the people, and in so doing demonstrated its intolerance for inclusive and participatory governance.In so doing, it has definitively fallen from grace. Contact sundayarrow@gmail.comlast_img

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