PPP supporters protest outside Parliament as debate begins

first_img2017 BudgetA mixture of executives and grass-root supporters of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) protested the National Assembly on Monday, hoping to soften the heart of the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) Government to either fully withdraw, or extract the “draconian” measures in the 2017 Budget, which they say will see a doomsday for all.Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo interacting with protesters outside the National Assembly on MondayThe protest, one of many to follow, is seemingly the only other option remaining for the PPP, as the party has very little influence in Parliament, with Government having a one seat majority.Executive Secretary Zulficar Mustapha, who led the demonstration, said the protest will continue, with spontaneous actions across the country. He said he hopes the public demonstration will send a message to Government, for it to change its decision.He said the 2017 Budget has affected every Guyanese, from every race and political affiliation. According to him, the APNU/AFC in its Manifesto, had promised a reduction in VAT to 12 per cent, but has now instead reduced the tax by two per cent and added it on to the utilities. He said VAT this year will increase incredibly.Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo said the atmosphere at the beginning of the debates had already suggested that Government will not budge from its position and measures. He said many of these things are not yet seen until the respective utility bills with the VAT are given.A mixture of executives and grass-root supporters outside the National Assembly“It is bad economics, many of the measures in the Budget are not in keeping with the goals of the Government, “the good life for all, keeping cost of living down, and boosting the economy. There are more than 15 measures in the Budget that are harmful to economic growth and the country as a whole,” Jagdeo said.According to the Opposition Leader when combined with what occurred earlier this year with the 2016 Budget, that financial plan had increased over 140 taxes and this new budget over 50. This one he said is a bit more profound because it has tackled core taxes in a single year. This has happened while there is nothing to stimulate the economy in a $250 billion budget. “It is unbelievable”, Jagdeo said.Speaking also at the protest, PPP executive Dr Vindhya Persaud said the new budget taxes will cause severe burden on especially the poor: “You think of the taxation that has been levied on the people, it is 57 new taxes and we also look on the new taxes on electricity and water.”According to Persaud, Government’s talk about a green economy is not being realised in its proposed 2017 financial plan.“How can you tell a pensioner at home, who has gotten just $800 on their pension that they have to pay VAT on their electricity and water – essential things that people use every day – how can you tell the housewife who is already struggling to budget that what was once zero rated is now tax exempted and that cost from the manufacturer is now going to be passed on to her at home and that cost of living is going to rise?” the Parliamentarian asked.She said these things are more than hurtful since taxes will also be imposed on education and health, and they will all impact persons in every single way: “When you look at the social sector and we look at the budget, there’s nothing there for the single parent, for women just a few lines on Child Protection Agency and if you look the CPA,… there is a dearth of professionals to provide counselling services. The measures are draconian and people should speak out against it.”Persaud said there are a lot of measures in the budget that will also essentially shut down a lot of small businesses: “Even the business community is squealing. If you’re going to squeeze the business community effectively people are going to be knocked off and the cost to manufacturers is going to rack up. The reality is people are struggling to make ends meet and when this budget is going to tell you that life is going to be that much harder, then who it is going to be for?”She related that the PPP at this point can do nothing since Government has the majority in Parliament.“We can only call for it, point out the logic of the need to withdraw the budget, because I would think that they would want the same objective we want that is, a growing Guyana, a more enhancing people enjoying benefits. So we can only do that, but they have arrogantly used their one-seat majority, saying this is our time now, and it is a silly thing that they have done to pass legislations that are harmful to people.”last_img

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