First time Member of Parliament (MP), Amanza Walton-Desir, who represents the Opposition APNU+AFC, has taken aim at the track record of the PPP, suggesting that Budget 2021 is nothing to celebrate.
Budget 2021, which was presented by Senior Minister within the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, stands at $383B – the largest in this country’s history.
Walton-Desir, who opened the budget debates in the National Assembly on Monday, contended that the budget was one which will put generations in debt.
“Budget 2021 is being financed by destroying a sound tax base that the PPP inherited, in preference for burrowing. We’re gonna burrow ourselves to death,” she argued.
The Attorney said that by the end of 2021, if all goes well with the Budget, the country would have racked up a debt of US$1B which is roughly five times what is contained in the natural resource fund.
In examining the injection of the funds into the economy through policies and programmes, the MP opined that the PPP government has “a nasty, a nasty record when it comes to the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP)”.
While contending that there is no issue with doubling the PSIP as was done in this year’s budget, Walton-Desir noted that the Guyanese people are aware of the “litany of failed projects” over which the PPP has presided.
Among these, she said, were the Skeldon factory, the Amaila Falls road, the Marriott Hotel, wharves that have collapsed, and the Kato School for which $1B was expended and the coalition was forced to complete.
“Not only these large projects, you had small projects in every town and village where there was shoddy infrastructure works, [and] substandard works by contractors. That is what characterized their management of the PSIP” the MP added.
She said that if these were not bad enough, Minister Singh has indicated that the PPP government intends to return to the pre-2015 policies and procedures of procurement.
“May God have mercy on us,” Walton-Desir lamented, adding that that period yielded sole sourcing of contracts, contract splitting, inflated estimates by engineers, blatant discrimination of engineers, lack of a bid process committee, poorly prepared bid documents, and the limited publication of awards to name a few.
In response to these comments, however, Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton, pointed to a number of projects executed by the APNU+AFC during its time in office, contending that major acts of corruption characterized that period.
Minister Hamilton specifically highlighted the Sustainable Livelihood and Entrepreneurial Development (SLED) projects – some of which never got started even though millions of dollars were disbursed to the beneficiaries.
Two of the beneficiaries are APNU+AFC MPs, Christopher Jones – who was supposed to set up a barber shop – and Jermaine Figueira who also benefitted from a grant.