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By Abena RockcliffeOpposition frontbencher, Irfaan Ali, yesterday sought to thwart what he referred to as efforts to paint a “rosy picture of the economy” to give false hope to the poor and lower middle class of Guyana.Opposition MP,Irfaan AliAli said that those efforts were made by Finance Minister, Winston Jordan, when he presented the 2016 Budget last week.The former Housing Minister said that Jordan created the illusion by citing some of the traditional macro economic indicators,China NFL Jerseys, such as GDP, inflation, balance of payments and fiscal balances.“In his speech the honourable Minister reported GDP growth of 3.0 percent and deflation of 1.8 percent. Based on these figures we are expected to believe the fairy tale story that the average Guyanese enjoyed the ‘good life’ as promised last year.  But that was not the case.”According to Ali, the truth is that the “good life” remains an ‘elusive dream’ to most and a reality for a “select few.”“The increased income, the wonderful 3.0 percent economic growth was supposed to create, never enhanced the real spending power of the average man.“Moreover the lower prices hardly did very little to stimulate greater spending by consumers. The bottom line is that the utility of the average man never improved and the ‘good life’ was simply a mirage.”The Opposition Member of Parliament told the House that the question lingering in the mind of the ordinary Guyanese is “Where is the good life?”He questioned,China NFL Jerseys, “How it is possible for the average Guyanese to enjoy the ‘good life’ when consumer spending is contracting, bankruptcy is occurring at an alarming rate, and at-risk or vulnerable Guyanese are now enjoying less than under the PPP/C administration?”Ali also asked how Jordan can perpetuate the “lie” of a good life with a straight face when each pensioner was deprived of the electricity and water subsidy amounting to $50,Wholesale Authentic Jerseys,000 annually and $500 M collectively.Ali said also that more than 100,000 poor families were deprived of the $10,000 cash grant by the scrapping of the ‘Because We Care’ initiative.He said, too, that Jordan should be ashamed to talk about the good life when consumers of gasoline/diesel were literally squeezed at the pumps by paying in excess of $2.6B because the government refused to pass on the benefits of the falling oil prices.Ali said, “Despite initial denial and some PR gimmicks, it is public knowledge that Ministers were granted substantial increases in salaries and benefits without any consultations.“Our Prime Minister is now benefitting from an annual salary of $20,580,000 and perks totaling $500,Jerseys NFL Cheap,000, while the Vice Presidents, Cabinet Ministers and Junior Ministers $11,135,064, $10,439,124 and $8,346,Cheap Jerseys,492 respectively with perks more than the annual increases granted to the public servants.”The former Minister said, too, that contract workers were also fattened by handsome pay packages with $3.6B billion set aside for them.Restoring Confidence and Effective Macro economic ManagementAli noted Jordan’s indication that confidence was restored and more investments were made last year. He said that the Minister noted that Go-invest facilitated numerous projects and highlighted the potential value of the investments.“I admire the skillfulness of the Minister to highlight the ‘potential value of investments’ facilitated by Go-Invest and the ‘potential jobs likely to be created” rather than state the actual investments and actual number of new employment opportunities that originated from these investments.”The Opposition MP said that the because of the slowdown in the economy fewer jobs were created last year by the private sector.“For a government which campaigned on the slogan of creating jobs, it is quite bothersome the lengthy budget speech hardly focused on the issue of ‘job creation’; in the entire speech, the word ‘jobs’ was mentioned three times.”Ali said that the harsh truth is that jobs were not created last year. Instead, there was a reduction in employment opportunities, especially in the private sector.Ali quoted the Bank of Guyana half year report for 2015 which said “Preliminary estimates indicated a deceleration in private sector employment due to the reduction in activities primarily in the construction and mining industries.”Ali told the House that an examination of the statistics on the fiscal performance shows very little to celebrate for macro economic performance.According to him, the improved performance was due mainly to lower spending by Government caused by its inability to implement the public investment programme.“This is an old accounting trick. The academics and practitioners refer to this as expenditure or consumption smoothing”. It is a trick where you postpone spending to give the false impression of a good bottom line.“Had the government implemented the public investment programme,Cheap Wholesale Jerseys, the fiscal balance would have been substantially larger and the overall deficit as a percentage of GDP would have been around 2 to 3 percent. Is this bad? The answer is no!”Ali said that a responsible government would have ensured the successful implementation of public sector investment programme, as a counter cyclical measure to halt the decline in the economy and stimulate spending.He said that instead, the government played it safe “and we now have lower growth, contraction in spending, and less employment opportunities…Our government induced a slowdown in the economy by cutting back on capital spending when the economy was on the decline.”Ali said that there is nothing in the budget for the poor. “This budget take away more from the poor.”He said that the benefits for the poor are “a few $100s more to the pensioners, a few $20s for the vehicle owners who will now benefit from a $20 reduction per litre of gasoline and $9 reduction per litre of dieseline.“Poor households will also benefit from a $30 reduction per litre of kerosene.”He continued, “Apart from the obvious disregard for the working class, this budget makes no provision for key sectors such as sugar and rice.“These two sectors which contributed over $14.9 billion to our Gross Domestic Product earned over $300 million in foreign currency and supported the livelihood of poor rural communities last year, are treated flippantly by the government…“The only groups outside of the Ministers who will gain from Budget 2016 are Contract workers who will benefit from an allocation of over $9 billion compared with $3.7 billion in 2015.
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