Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo has lambasted the Government for its obsession with extravagant overall spending while not giving enough priority to funding for key sectors.
During a press conference held yesterday, Jagdeo said that the 2019 National Budget is no different to those presented by the Coalition Government in previous years. Jagdeo also accused the Government of expending significant funds on “non-essential” areas in comparison to sectors such as health, indigenous affairs, public infrastructure, and public security.
According to Jagdeo, there has been nearly $14B expended since 2014 on the celebration of national events; local travel and subsistence; vehicle spares; rental of buildings; private security services; and other categories. These areas, he said, represent the largest growth for expenditure in the Government’s budgets.
In comparison, Jagdeo said, there have only been slow increases in sectors that play a key role in national development.
The Opposition Leader said that there has been a $4.6B increase in capital expenditure in health, education and public security yet more than this figure is spent on unnecessary categories that have increased abnormally. He noted, for example, the near stagnation of the Ministry of Agriculture’s allocations from 2018 to 2019. In both years, the Ministry received about $4.6B; in 2019, he added, $1.8B of the $4.6B will come from foreign sources.
“The numbers illustrate the priorities of this Government. I urge Guyanese to go behind the numbers,” he said. He further stressed, “They [Government] prefer to spend more on eating, on rental of buildings…than they are spending on health and education,” said Jagdeo.
He said too that there has been extravagant spending by Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo, especially compared to spending done under previous prime ministers.
“I think most people by now would have gotten the picture so I urge Guyanese to not just listen to the minister’s speech – it was a long speech – but go to the estimates,” he said.
On Monday, Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, presented the $300.7B 2019 National Budget under the theme, “Transforming the Economy, Empowering People, Building Sustainable Communities for the Good Life”. Soon afterwards, Jagdeo spoke with media operatives and heavily criticised the budget, calling it a “disappointment” and not representative of the needs of the people.