Budget Debate Day 1: “Don’t distort facts!” – Govt MP to Opposition MP
…APNU called out for quoting ‘fictitious’ cost-of-living price increases
Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister, Kwame McCoy on Monday used his allotted time in the budget debate to rebut many of the criticisms that have been cast at the recently presented $781.9 billion national budget, by the parliamentary Opposition.
One of the often-repeated criticisms by the parliamentary Opposition is that enough is not being done to address cost of living. However, Minister McCoy emphasised that the Government is in touch with the people and their needs at the grass roots.
In fact, he said that each Minister has been on over 200 outreaches across the country, since they came to office. Not only did McCoy make it clear that the Government is cognisant of cost of living, he even debunked some of the increases that were quoted.
“We’re being watched all over the world, on social media and other platforms. And anyone… not knowing what happens in Guyana, would go away with the impression that the cost-of-living issue is so damning and the most horrible situations exist in Guyana. And only Guyana. This is a worldwide phenomenon and we as a Government have owned this issue.”
“One of your MP’s said sugar… now is $400 (a pound). I sent to Mocha. A five-pound sugar is $800. She said one pound is $400. A pound of sugar (is) $160. Coming out of Mocha, I thought it best to buy it from Mocha because she lives there. The oil she said is $800, $400! We cannot come here and tell stories that don’t represent the reality! And this is how you have succeeded and survived for many years!”
A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Member of Parliament Nima Flue-Bess castigated the Government for its handling of the Mocha, East Bank Demerara (EBD) squatters who refused to move into already built homes being provided by the Government.
“When we talk about destruction, these people were people who were farmers! This is just one example of a cow that lived in that area. They were told to sell it and move to an area where they cannot continue their farming,” Flue-Bess said.
However, McCoy disputed her claims and said that there is no evidence of animals being bulldozed – a claim that was made by some Opposition MPs when their turn came to give their budget presentations.
“Where are the animals that were killed in Mocha? I would like to see them! I saw this thing on Facebook one Saturday. And I became concerned that this might actually be happening. And I enquired and we proceeded to the point of finding out that none of it existed!”
“None of it was true! Why are you doing this? To be an Opposition doesn’t mean you have to distort the facts! Doesn’t mean you have to misrepresent people. You don’t have to spread misinformation!” McCoy further said.
As recently as November 2022, Housing and Water Minister Collin Croal had called out the APNU Opposition for urging the persons occupying the Government reserves not to relocate. Croal had contended that extensive work was done to ensure the residents were relocated to developed housing schemes and were adequately compensated based on the market value of their structures on the reserves. As such, he had said the Opposition was being ‘reckless’ and is not interested in the development and upliftment of the very people it claims to represent.
“Those persons [the squatters] would have never been able to be regularised or have a document for ownership, as well as to [be able to] apply for utility in terms of electricity and water…,” the Minister stated.
Croal further noted that the process to remove the squatters was done in a way to minimise living disruption of the families, while making sure that homeownership is legally achieved as a means of building generational wealth.
Some of the residents who were relocated to the Farm-Herstelling housing areas have begun construction of their new homes, while others have already completed their structures. (G3)