Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan has called out the “prognosticators of dooms’ that have been in overdrive denouncing 2017 Budget and calling for its removal.
The Communities Minister, speaking in the National Assembly in support of Budget 2017, pointed out that since the budget presentation, “members on the opposite side of this House have been busy, deriding and decrying this budget to be anti-working class, anti-business, ominous and all manner of epithets.”
The Minister said that the reality could not be further from the truth. He said instead Budget 2017 is “the best of the three budgets that have been presented by this administration.” He pointed out that the 2017 Budget is transformative in nature, as well as structure and, “It is pro-working class, with equity promoting measures.”
Minister Bulkan said that “the progressive tax rates that it (the budget) introduces put more money in peoples’ pockets.” He pointed out that “even the 40 percent tax rate for persons earning more than $2.16 Million, annually, would see them taking home more under the current regime, given that one-third of their income is now non-taxable,” the Minister said.
Minister Bulkan said that the Ministers and Government Members of Parliament “are proud of the 2017 Budget.” He said that the purveyors of doom are no different than Chicken Licken, who was quick to jump to wrong conclusions and told everyone she met, that the sky was falling.”
(Chicken Licken, is an international folk tale with a moral in the form of a cumulative tale that makes light of paranoia and mass hysteria or mistaken belief that disaster is imminent). He added that, “We know from that story what happened to all those who followed Chicken Licken, they were eaten by the fox,” the Minister said, pointing out that in the final analysis, it would be the people and not the opposition, who would be the ones who pronounce on 2017 Budget, as well as the next two that would follow, and give their final verdict in 2020.
Minister Bulkan said that Government recognises that the “members on the opposite side of the House are looking for political space,” but government however, is focused on the future.
Minister Bulkan also called out Opposition MP and former Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Ganga Persaud for some remarks he made during his presentation to the House on Budget 2017. Persaud, who spoke just prior to Minister Bulkan, said that the Local Government Elections (LGE) are still incomplete.
Persaud during his presentation had noted that there are still six Local Government areas in which the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has failed and continue to fail to resolve these elections. Further, he also pointed out that “the Minister of Communities’ imposition of Mayor in the township of Mabaruma and the imposition of chairpersons in those tied Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) is something that is still engaging the attention of the Court.” He asked then, how can, Government boast of having successfully completed the LGE.
Minister Bulkan in responding however pointed out that what Persaud failed to tell the House is that following the ties in the LDOs; an offer was made by the Government to the Opposition, “to honour the democratic principle whereby the party that obtained the greater number of votes in those tied areas would be entitled to the chairmanship.”
The Minister said that the records would show that “that offer was refused by the Opposition.” He said this refusal is what led to the lack of a resolution on the elections, and what necessitates the need for him as Minister of Communities to name the Mayor in the case of Mabaruma and the chairperson in the LDOs.
During his presentation, Persaud had also referred to Budget 2017 as “a great disappointment to all in the country.” He had said that “when the dust is settled, there will be more than 75 percent of Guyanese in the country who would say that Budget 2017 was one of the gravest Budgets that would have brought onto the shoulder of people.” Like the Members of the Opposition party that spoke before him, Persaud also joined the call for the Minister of Finance to withdraw Budget 2017 and come with a “proper financial proposal that would ensure growth and development in the country.”
Minister Bulkan however denounced these statements, pointing out that the “transformative nature of Budget 2017 is infectious and contagious.” He said that it is also “irreversible.”
The Communities Minister invited the Opposition to be more dispassionate. He called on them to partner with government, noting that this would only bring benefit to the country.