…is better??

In another context, it’s been said that “bigger ain’t necessarily better”, but your Eyewitness has found the observation to be true in most cases. So, over the years, when it comes to Budgets, he’s not too impressed by the usual “Biggest ever Budget” screaming announcements and headlines. So, he’ll again try to assess the latest “biggest ever” claim by the latest Finance Minister on the $781 billion Budget with a jaundiced eye.
His promise was to be ‘Improving Lives Today, Building Prosperity for Tomorrow’, with this Budget.
That he took a marathon five hours to read it out isn’t really indicative of the “bigness”. Your Eyewitness suspects that Finance Ministers stretch out their presentations so as to wear out the Opposition Leader – who’s expected to offer a quick response. Here, the LoO dourly announced, that it was a “Dead Meat” Budget! So, your Eyewitness isn’t sure whether he was really getting his licks in on his erstwhile AFC “Dead Meat” coalition partner, who’d just decamped the said coalition.
Be that as it may, he notes that, over a quarter of that $781 billion was really rolled over from last year’s Budget, that couldn’t be spent – primarily in infrastructure, because of supply-chain constraints. So, we shouldn’t be surprised that the big items in the Budget include $136 billion for roads and bridges countrywide, including $5.2 billion to start off the new Demerara River Bridge. But did you know that you can’t get stones for love or money?? The challenge will be to see who has all that stone!! The $43 billion allocated to get the gas delivered to the shore all the way overland to Wales Development Corporation includes compensation for expropriating land for the 20-mile pipeline. All this infrastructural work, of course, is dedicated to “Building Prosperity for Tomorrow’.
Another bit ticket item for the PPP has always been education, and this year they remained true to form with $94.4 billion allocated here. But your Eyewitness suspects if the “dark forces” (?) keep burning down those schools as soon as they are rebuilt, the Government might have to introduce some “supplementaries” in this area!! But the average Guyanese in the street usually shrugs at these expenditures, cause their perspective is “What’s in it for me” – the ‘Improving Lives Today” bit!!
And as usual, nothing done in this area will satisfy the targeted constituency. The $58.6 on Security?? Blah!! Some $50 billion was allocated to increasing pensions (+$5000 monthly); Public Assistance (+$2000/monthly) increasing the non-taxable base from $75,000 to $85,000 (+$3000/monthly); a plethora of grants; part-time jobs ($40,000/monthly). The indirect subsidies on shipping costs etc get lost in the shuffle.
Your Eyewitness suspects your eyes are glazing over, dear reader, so he’ll return to the Budget another day!!

…fine for outlaw 8
The eight Opposition MPs who’d caused mayhem in the National Assembly last year evidently forgot they weren’t in a rum shop, where anything goes – and usually does! Some of them ganged up on the Finance Minister – who was reading the NRF Bill – and blew whistles, illustrating the expression “ear-splitting” quite literally!! Another snagged the Parliamentary Mace and ran off with it – knocking down the Sergeant at Arms and deriding him as an ‘ouse slave in the process! And finally, one extremist destroyed the communications system of the hallowed Assembly!!
After they were subsequently hauled in front of the Parliamentary Privileges Committee and suspended for a varying number of sittings, they protested to the Courts that their “Constitutional rights” had been violated. Not so, the Court just ruled: “The Court does not have jurisdiction to intervene in the internal matters of Parliament”!!
And to emphasise the point, rather than fining them the AG-requested costs of $250,000 each, the Court UPPED it to $350,000 each!!

…oil revenues
If you’re gonna spend bigger, and you’re prudent, you’d have ensured your incomes are correspondingly bigger. And it’s no surprise that our bigger oil revenues from the record 13M barrels of oil lifted last year offered the cushion!!
Drill baby, drill!!