The repeal of the Withholding Tax and the alleged non-disciplining of errant contractors by the current government could create a perception that the administration highly favours the business class over the working class. This supposed favourtism, says the Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) and Alliance for Change (AFC) Leader, Khemraj Ramjattan, could lead to resentment from the proletariat.

The legislator issued this warning during Day Two of the Budget 2024 debate being held in Georgetown today.

The MP said that the Withholding Tax proposed by the former government was to ensure that some amount of income goes into the budget or at least the Consolidated Fund for the purposes of ensuring that companies pay their “due amount”. However, according to Ramjattan, the former Public Securities Minister, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) upon its ascension to office, moved to have the measure repealed.

“It was repealed! And this is why I say, as I have said some 10 years ago, that this government is extremely close with that class of people – the crony capitalist contractor class to the detriment of the working class. And it is an amazing thing, Mr. Speaker, that these are the same people who say – and they still have it in their party’s constitution – that they are the vanguard of the working class”, Ramjattan said.

Ramjattan said that a “more balanced” approach should have gone into the proposed spending in Budget 2024.

“We haven’t seen that. This balancing is necessary, because sometimes you can overheat an economy by spending so much money on infrastructure, which you do not have the capacity and the capabilities,” he added, referring the current dearth of contractors and worker shortages in the country.

Ramjattan said that errant contractors are not disciplined, given more “fuel” to the perception that there is a “bias to that class” of “crony capitalist contractors”.

The MP said that the oil monies should be harnessed in such a way that everyone has a “share of the pie” as opposed to only “an exclusive set of people” filling their “treasury chests”.

He added, “This is not going to help this country. It is going to create resentment at the bottom there (grassroot level) when people see that some sets are getting and especially if the majority of that set comes from a certain demographic, it is going to create problems for this country.”


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