Home Letters Response to former Minister of Finance Winston Jordan
I am obliged to respond to the Former Minister of Finance Winston Jordan, who made outlandish claims on the current PPP/C budget that is before Parliament for debate and approval.
Mr Jordan is the last person who should comment on this budget, as his leadership at the Ministry of Finance wreaked havoc on the economy, and bankrupted Guyana. His misguided philosophical approach is one which not only stifled the average consumer in Guyana but was onerous and burdensome on the Private Sector. No incentives were given for production and the promotion of productivity. To compensate for this, unleashed on taxpayers was a regime of abrasive and wide-reaching taxation; unprecedented in its nature in the Caribbean.
I would like to apprise the public that out of the budget of $329.5 billion, the PPP/C Administration met with unauthorised and illegal spending of more than half of the budget from January 1, 2020, to August 2, 2020, as there was no Parliament since December 2018. A substantial portion of this budget had to cater for ‘rollover’ projects from 2019, undertaken by the APNU caretaker Government. The claim by Jordan that the PPP/C Administration has to spend $329.5 billion within the last quarter of the year is nothing beyond soundbites demonstrating both his ignorance and incompetence.
It is important to note that in 2014, the final year of the PPP/C’s Administration, tax revenue totalled $135.2 billion. Within a mere five (5) years, the APNU Government’s tax revenues sky-rocketed by $91 billion or, a 67 per cent increase from 2014. Notably, this increase in tax revenue came directly from the pockets of the citizens of Guyana in order to fund their lavish lifestyle in office. The sum-effect of Mr Jordan’s policies is that the citizens of Guyana were left poorer.
What they did with this money is Mr Jordan’s legacy to answer to the Guyanese people. But to point out a few, we saw bloating of the public sector characterising this period, driving operational costs up by astronomical levels with no corresponding increase in work output. He must also answer why he transferred lands to people illegally whilst a caretaker Minister, why monies were spent on capital works in Guyana against the financial laws of the country and why he lied to the Guyanese population about the US$18 million signing bonus. Mr Jordan has the dubious distinction of being the worst Finance Ministers to ever set foot in that office.
Recently, a $300 million fraud was discovered by the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) around fuel supply at GuyOil. Since GuyOil falls under the Ministry of Finance, Mr Jordan will have to answer for these as well.
It is my duty to ensure that the record is clear on this matter from the outset.
This Emergency Budget is a step in the right direction to rectify the wrong-doings and malpractices of Mr Jordan and the Granger Administration and seeks to usher in a new era of economic boom through our plan for prosperity.
Measures enacted by President Ali’s Government
The PPP/C’s budget underpins its philosophy of a pro-poor approach to managing the economy where every measure is designed to affect the Guyanese population in a positive way.
A few of the measures in the budget can be categorised as efforts to:
1. Support COVID-19 frontline workers by setting aside $150 million for their direct benefit
2. Reduce the cost of living by the reversal of VAT on electricity and water – a hardship measure placed on the Guyanese people by Mr Jordan’s policies which are being removed by Dr Ali’s Government.
3. Increase disposable income by directly providing $25,000 per household through $4.5 billion in the budget.
4. Measures to improve the provision of education and health
a. Removal of 25 per cent corporate tax on private education which will translate into a reduction in school fees per child
b. Removal of 25 per cent corporate tax on healthcare. This will translate itself to a lower hospital bill.
c. Removal of VAT on medical supplies. This simply means that the bill at the pharmacy is cheaper.
5. Support for miners through the removal of VAT on machinery and equipment. Hardship measures created by Mr Jordan’s policies severely hampered many small-scale miners, forcing them out of operation. This new measure will enable 60 per cent of small-scale miners to re-enter the mining sector.
6. Support for farmers through the removal of VAT on ATVs, the reversal of VAT on exports, reversal of land lease fees across all sectors which grew between 67 to 1900 per cent under the APNU Government, removal of VAT on fertilisers, agrochemicals, pesticides, key inputs in the poultry industry, zero-rating of the poultry industry and the affording of tax concessions on investment in agro-processing facilities, cold storage and packaging. These measures will help to drastically reduce the cost for farmers.
7. Support vulnerable groups through:
a. Provision of $15,000 per child
b. Doubling of the uniform allowance
c. Reduction in cost of construction material through the elimination of VAT, contributing to the dream of homeownership for the average Guyana, a reality.
d. Reducing the cost of a mobile phone which is now used by children to access their online learning platforms
e. Slashing of all licensing fees by half – this will assist every person who is operating a small business, shop, grocery store, transport
f. Increase in old-age pension from $20,500 to $25,000
8. Measures to support our Amerindian brothers and sisters through:
a. The implementation of a programme that will see 25,000 solar units being distributed;
b. $800 million for the Amerindian Development Fund (ADF) including the reintroduction of the Community Service Officers (CSO) programme aimed at developing young Amerindians in various villages. This will create job opportunities for approximately 2000 youth;
c. $300 million from the ADF for investments in productive assets including tractors, trailers and agriculture tools;
d. $10 million for the commencement of the design of the National Toshaos Council Headquarters; and,
e. Resumption of the Amerindian Land Titling programme.
With the approach laid out by Dr Ali’s Administration, citizens of all walks of life can be assured that his policies and commitment will result in prosperity. President Ali has committed to ensuring that his plan for prosperity, despite the challenges, will ensure that the standard of living for every citizen is lifted. Guyanese can look forward to an inclusionary and participatory agenda in the medium-term, leaving behind the dark days of Mr Jordan and the APNU’s oppressive economic policies.
Junior Public Works