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July 24, 2024
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Budget fails to strike balance between infrastructure development and people development -says Ramjattan

Budget fails to strike balance between infrastructure development and people development  -says Ramjattan

Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Khemraj Ramjattan believes the Government through its National Budget has failed to strike a balance between investments in infrastructural development and socio-economic development of the working poor. 

The budget, the Opposition Member of Parliament said, is heavy on infrastructural development, and would largely benefit what he described as “a crony capitalist contractor class.” 

He said it fell short, in addressing in a meaningful way, the challenges facing the poor and the working class, such as the steep rise in cost of living. 

“You are not going to get shared prosperity as a result. As a matter of fact, I believe, when you concentrate the wealth to a crony capitalist contractor class with all these projects, you are going to have a concentration of poverty and that’s going to be tantamount to lots more people leaving the country. We go to the passport off, we go to the American Embassy, and lord have mercy, everybody wants to go away from a country that is literally, the 10th richest in the world,” the AFC Leader said. 

Government intends to spend $204.1B on the construction and upgrades of roads and bridges in the country, in addition to $95.7B on the Energy Sector, which includes $80B to advance to Gas-to-Energy Project.

Opposition MP and AFC Leader – Khemraj Ramjattan

Investments in infrastructure would also be seen throughout the other sectors of the country. 

Mr. Ramjattan said on the contrary, only $7B was budgeted for cost-of-living measures, which are still to be determined.

Meanwhile, the Old Age Pension and public assistance were increased by $3,000, while the School Children cash grant will see a $5000 increase.

Ramjattan, however, believes that the measures are inadequate, and he lashed out at the Government for failing to make the University of Guyana free, and for not investing more heavily in education.  

“The more kind of illiterate or uneducated we are, the better for them because they then, will go and give handouts and buy the votes. It is essentially that. The more educated your population is, the more you are going to have people making demands, and arguing the case that you are not delivering for us. But when you have that kind of moneys being spent, half only on education as promised, well, where are we?” Ramjattan said. 

In 2024, the Government intends to spend $135.2B on the Education Sector. However, of that amount, $4.1B will go to the University of Guyana. The AFC Leader said while UG is only receiving $4.1B, the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) is receiving another $6B although it continues to operate way below expectation. 

“Sugar and GuySuCo are supposed to bring in revenue. We are now taking revenues out of the treasury to ensure that things operate, and it is not going to get any better. Recently, they came out and indicated that they are not getting the workers, the labour is short, who would want to go and work at GuySuCO but they put in another $6B or $7B and they leave $4B for the University of Guyana, and so, I think their priorities are misplaced,” Ramjattan said.

Leader of the Opposition, Aubrey Norton, in an earlier statement, said the budget is aimed at making the rich, richer, while offering a “freck” to other citizens.

But while the Opposition has called for greater measures for the working poor, the Private Sector has applauded the Government for putting together a budget that would foster economic growth and development. 

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