April 26, 2010 - Demerara Waves
Leader of the Opposition David Granger says the cuts the opposition parties have made in the budget could be reversed later if the government accedes to the demands they see as necessary to ensure a better life for Guyanese.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday evening Granger said that the parliamentary process currently underway is not the end of the road.
“We will continue to work for our supporters because we will use the leverage we have gained this evening to go back to the government and continue talks until we get what we want. We haven’t closed the door.
We want to make sure VAT is reduced, we want to make sure that the cost of living is reduced, we want to see the University of Guyana gets increased subvention, we have not given up,” he said.
According to the APNU Chairman, they have told the government that they are prepared to consider requests for supplementary provisions if they get the items they feel that could promote development.
He pointed to cuts of GUY$527M made in the allocation for GECOM and said they could be reversed if the necessary reforms happen for local government elections to be held this year. But Granger said the government has not given “full consideration” to their demands other than the one to increase the Old Age Pension.
“We are prepared to use the device of supplementary estimates to provide funds to the government as long as it provides some of the concessions we requested because we are convinced that those concessions are necessary for the economic and social development of the country,” he added.
The list of demands submitted by the parties include the reduction of the VAT from 16 percent to 14 percent; a 10 percent increase in the salaries of public servants; reduction of the Berbice River Bridge toll from $2200 to $1000; increase the retirement age of public servants to 65; and effectively re-establishing the functioning of public service collective bargaining.
There is also a call for an increase in the GUY$900M subvention to the University of Guyana; restructure GUYSUCO and GPL to make them into viable corporations; and restructure GINA and NCN to make them into responsible national institutions.
The government has already given a commitment to fast track the establishment of a Public Procurement Commission which was one of the demands but the opposition leader Wednesday evening dismissed it as mere words.
“We want to see theses things happen The PPP has been in power for nearly 20 years and we’ve had lots of promises before, Mr. [Desmond] Hoyte has had dialogue, Mr. [Robert] Corbin has had dialogue and we want to see the PPP deliver on some of these promises,” Granger stated, referring to his predecessors.
Pressed on whether there was a timeline for the establishment of the Commission he said they were aiming for August 1 but added that the PPP/C has been reluctant to give a solid commitment.
On addressing the perception of the opposition being anti-development in its cuts Granger said they are mobilizing to counter that.
“We have already started to give instructions to our people in the regions and we’ll be fanning out this weekend. As far as for the people who didn’t support APNU or AFC are concerned we will continue to let them know that the moves that we have made are not against the working class and not against the ordinary workers; they are against a government which is refusing to consider the types of changes which we need.”
The parties return to the National Assembly on Thursday where the APNU has proposed, with the AFC’s backing, a GUY$18.3B cut in the funds for the Low Carbon Development Strategy projects.