…in the Budget
Unlike the trauma of PNC budgets back in the day, the populace has gotten used to the PPP presenting “Budgets of Hope”. And, Lord knows, we, the longsuffering Guyanese public, certainly need some hope after the double blow whammy of COVID- 19 and the PNC. We still don’t know how those threats will play out: what with the former mutating and the latter still pushing its “we wuz robbed” spiel. Rowley’s grim prognostication, that “this won’t end well”, is still apropos.
But back to the Budget. Unlike the recent PNC budgets presented by Jordan, playing the role of “The Grim Reaper” with his scythe of taxes, Ashni Singh’s effort was singularly spectacular in announcing simply, “NO NEW TAXES”! What a relief! But that wasn’t all – he continued with REMOVING VAT on many of the items that go into the food basket of the poor. Their dollars will now go much further – especially since those dollars won’t be additionally eaten away by inflation, as they were during the PNC’s stint. The projected 1.6 rate is merely a blip.
The Budget also let it be known that, on the COVID-19 front, we’re not just depending on handouts, since the rich counties have cornered the vaccine market with their big bucks. Citizens were certainly pleased to hear that $750M is set aside for PURCHASING vaccines. Now we just have to elbow our way past those rich (but cynical) countries to get to the counter.
Another positive move was to remove VAT from “data” plans. Data is now another signifier of those who’ll move ahead and those who’ll remain stuck in poverty. Think about it: most teaching and research by students are now done over the Internet, and with the cost of data so astronomical, any relief is welcome. Maybe the Government ought to consider data as a “public good” – the price of which ought to be regulated.
But the best news was about the projected growth of the economy – without the hype. The man (and woman) in the street have already gotten jaded and blasé about all the high, double-digit figures, growth rates bandied about on our growth rate. They realise that most of this “growth” is from oil revenues, but the PNC has stuck us with that obscene contract where 85.5% of the revenues from oil don’t stay in Guyana, but go to the foreign oil company!! And the eventual 3000 jobs from “local content” in the oil industry isn’t even half of the 7000 persons who were thrown into the streets by the PNC closures.
No…the good news is that the non-oil industries – where Guyanese are employed – will grow by 6.1%!!
Hope is alive and kicking!
…on Valentine’s Day
Thank goodness for Ashni Singh’s Budget just before Valentine’s Day! For five years, all the romance and joy had been sucked dry from that traditionally happy day, set aside for love, by the Valentine’s Day Cummingsburg Accord signed by the AFC with the PNC! That exercise in sheer calculated greed for “pelf and power” was so cynical that even prenuptial agreements went out of style in Guyana!! Which man or woman wants to become guaranteed “dead meat”?!
So, your Eyewitness wonders whether the AFC and the PNC biggies will kiss and make up today. He doesn’t expect them to exhibit the exuberance and wild abandon of Nagamootoo and Granger “wining” down on campaign stages from Abary to Whim – and not forgetting Zeelugt! After all, even by 2020, the shine had obviously worn off THAT apple! But they do say with matters of the heart – and the Valentine’s Day 2015 Accord was about the heart, wasn’t it? – hope beats eternal.
So, are Nagamootoo and Granger going to surface?
…and throwing mud
Harmon’s fighting for his political survival. But does he have to remain in the gutter? Breaking all the venerable Parliamentary proprieties surrounding the Speaker, he accused the gentleman of siccing the police on PNC MPs.
Couldn’t he have enquired?