Budget 2019 has nothing for the poor, marginalised – audit firm

…says budget tailored along neo-liberal, pro-business lines

In a candid assessment, Audit firm Ram and McRae have called out the recently presented 2019 budget for having little to no provision for the poor, women and gender issues, and other critical matters like the Berbice Bridge, now headed to court after a Government takeover.
In its annual publication of Budget Focus, the firm, founded by anti-corruption advocate Christopher Ram, acknowledged the provisions in the budget for people with disabilities, the employed and self-employed, and Finance Minister Winston Jordan’s stamina for having presented the almost-five-hour-long budget speech uninterrupted.
According to the firm, however, the budget “is silent on women and gender issues; single mothers; the unemployed, including the recently unemployed; the National Insurance Scheme, and the Berbice Bridge which the Government took over earlier this month.”
“These inevitably lead us to conclude, as we did last year, that this Administration does not seem to regard income and wealth inequality as serious issues; and accordingly there is nothing in the Budget that could be considered a pro-poor step,” the firm stated.

Finance Minister Winston Jordan during his marathon budget presentation

According to the firm, the 2019 budget in fact seems to have been prepared along neoliberal lines that would limit Government’s role in certain aspects of the economy that could benefit the private sector.
The firm noted that the policies suggest Government is hopeful that the benefits of the business-friendly measures will trickle down to the rest of the economy. According to the firm, however, such measures are more likely to foster inequality and dissatisfaction among the populace.
“Yet the Minister appeared not only confident, but comfortable that the business community would welcome the measures. On the other hand, it did not seem to faze him that the market vendor, the single mom, and the unemployed and others who struggle at the lower rungs of the social ladder may view the Budget very differently,” the firm stated.
“Despite the exhaustive agenda identified by the Minister, there is no place for the poor, the unemployed and the marginalised, whose interest will lie in trickledown economics,” it added in its publication.
While Ram and McRae has observed that the budget seems to be tailored for the private sector, even the private sector has criticised the Government for missing crucial measures, such as lowering the cost of fuel.
Immediately following the budget presentation, Executive Director of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), Richard Rambarran, had said that although the private sector was happy to see some money coming back in the hands of the consumers, it is extremely disappointed that the Government has made no move to remove or reduce the excise tax on fuel.
“What is very worrying is that the excise tax on fuel and the nature and cost structure of the fuel remain the same, which is something the private sector certainly could have done with a reduction in,” he said.
He explained that, in 2018, fuel has had a debilitating effect on the private sector because of its multipurpose. He noted that it is not only used in manufacturing, but in every other aspect of business.
“It is used in distribution, it is used in just about every single aspect of the production and distribution line; and as such, there should be something, or there should have been something, which addresses fuel costs,” he noted.
Rambarran had further related that the Government needs to be more serious about the development of a green economy, and not just talk about developing a green economy. He identified the lack of advancement in this area despite the Government repeatedly talking about the Green State Development.