…says divestment plan will cripple sugar workersThe 2018 Budget debate was opened by Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Priya Manickchand who wasted no time in reproaching Government for its lack of vision, describing the fiscal plan as a ‘check box’ budget and urged them to state their ideology and philosophy for Guyana.Manickchand, a former Minister under the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Government, told the National Assembly that the paper was robotic in laying out a proper programme for the development of Guyana. She is of the firm view that it does not address the needs of the people.Priya Manickchand during her budget presentationIn addressing some of her concerns about the local economy, the Opposition MP said because of the politically unstable environment, people feel uncomfortable to invest in Guyana. But importantly also, Manickchand said there are several reasons that continue to cause the local economy to perform poorly, which has to do with the Government’s incompetence to strategise.She argued that the PPP laid a solid foundation to propel the economy to greater heights but accused the current Administration of “dumping years of democratic practices.” Manickchand therefore urged the Government to work with the Opposition to craft and present a stimulus plan. She noted that this is lacking in Budget 2018 and all the previous budgets that were presented by the current Government.The former Minister noted also that the Government has adopted most of the programmes and projects that were started under the PPP Government which continue to show some progress. However, in a few cases where these programmes have been altered, they are not achieving the goals that they were created to achieve and this, according to the MP, should be addressed.Further, she debated that Government seems incapable of properly projecting Guyana’s annual income, noting that this has happened twice last year when they had to make adjustments. Manickchand pointed out that Government had to come back twice and admit to making mistakes on the projections.“I want to invite the Government and the Ministers in the Cabinet to consider why it is they might have not seen the expected income they wanted. I am asking directly, Sir, of the Ministers for them to ponder if perhaps the fact that they declared the country to be bankrupted from the beginning has seen no investments coming here and therefore no growth,” she added.Touching on the PPP’s performance in Government, Manickchand said her party delivered development that benefited all groups of citizens and during their leadership poverty was reduced. She therefore challenged the coalition Government to continue to ensure that poverty is further reduced but noted that the 2018 Budget did not contain any tangible measures to support this reduction.Crippling sugar workersSpeaking specifically about the plight of sugar workers, most of which will no longer have a job in 2018, the Opposition MP said the coalition Government is ‘crippling’ these workers. “We failing to give them anything they can do to earn for their families. So it’s like a car, you’re walking out of this Parliament lick you upside down and change your life automatically. The Government is doing that.”Manickchand argued that the Government’s move is unconscionable especially since they have made no effort to train the affected workers to become employable in any other field. She said, “These are not skilled and educated people that you can get up from one desk job and move to another assuming that those existed for 2000 people. These are people with special skills, you have to retrain them.”Reference was also made to President David Granger’s visit to Kenya, as he addressed a United Nations forum and encouraged the gathering that people must be put first before profit. “We don’t need to go to Kenya to hear people before profit, let your actions speak right here in Guyana. Put the people of the sugar estates first… Aren’t they people or because they aren’t your people?” she questioned. “I want to ask this Government if they feel comfortable knocking off these people because they do not believe these people aren’t theirs. That’s not an insinuation but a clear question. Answer it!”The former Human Services Minister has suggested that the Government utilise the money earned from the imposition of the Value Added Tax (VAT) on education to assist the families of those who will be laid off by the end of this year by the Guyana Sugar Corporation. Manickchand said this will help to cushion the effects these soon-to-be unemployed parents face ins ending their children to school, especially in light of the fact that Government had removed the school uniform subsidy.
AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan ClarksonEven President George W. Bush, at vacation rest, again, was required to slough off evident fatigue and emerge from retreat to express official sorrow in front of media cameras. And this was over the assassination of a woman who is not now even in the Pakistani Cabinet, and indeed, has not been in power for more than a decade. So, why all the fuss about Bhutto? What, after all – to be callous about it – is one more body made dead by terrorism? To offer some perspective, please understand that most Americans know very little about nuclear-powered Pakistan. But we had better start learning. American tax money, to the tune of $25 billion since 9-11, has been helping keep in power that country’s “president,” Pervez Musharraf, a military man. What’s surprising is that so little of this is widely known here. Yet the suicide-bombing assassination of Bhutto has swept across America as story number one. Here is my best guess: Americans are increasingly interested in the topic of the prospect or reality of women in power. For many here, the Bhutto story is about a woman of power more than about the internal politics of Pakistan. PERHAPS it was the ever-present white scarf, wrapped around her head, as if shouting to us that a woman in her particular culture might not have it so easy, especially if she wanted to change things. Or perhaps it was the simple drama of history exerting a powerful pull that was tugging her back from exile to her native Pakistan, even as the severe dangers of such a return seemed daily more evident. Or perhaps the tense and ultimately tragic saga of Benazir Bhutto, facing political crisis in her homeland, attracted America’s attention precisely because of its own impending need to make a major political decision about a high-profile woman of ambition. Whatever the reason, the sound of the pistol bullets that have left Bhutto dead have resounded all over the world – and not the least here in the United States. The Bhutto assassination is a big American news story, bigger than almost any story out of Asia in recent memory. After all, there aren’t that many women of power around the world for us to study. In Argentina there is new President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. Her comely picture appears just about every second or third day in American publications. Perhaps they are thinking of her as the new Evita. German Chancellor Angela Merkel gets some Western press, though not as much as Fernandez, perhaps because she is not as photogenic, though Germany is more important than Argentina. Elsewhere in Asia, there is President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the 14th president of the Philippines and the country’s second woman leader (Cory Aquino, 1986 to 1992, was the first). Like Benazir Bhutto when she was last prime minister (1993-96), Arroya has been hit with corruption allegations, too. The Bush administration was aware of the negative talk about Bhutto, but was desperate to fix the leaking dam that has become Pakistan. Musharraf has been losing a lot of legitimacy with the sacking of Supreme Court judges and the widespread jailing of lawyers and journalists. The opposing Pakistan People’s Party, with Bhutto returning from exile, suddenly offered a way for Washington to hedge its Pakistan bet should Mursharraf’s government come apart. The quick-drying glue of an externally imposed coalition regime would be slathered on Pakistan to seal the government from further sliding – and perhaps even falling into the hands of you-know-what kind of people. Bhutto, whether in alliance with Musharraf or not, was supposed to be Plan B, but now Benazir is no more. Benazir was murdered by an extremist madman, while Musharraf watched many miles away. Could he have done more to prevent it? Under the circumstances, that does not seem an unfair question to ask. Benazir was the eldest child of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who founded the Pakistan People’s Party and was president and later prime minister of Pakistan from 1971 to 1977. She always doffed that headscarf, to be sure, but she was no madam of the madrassas. She had been educated at Radcliffe and Harvard (majoring in comparative government, a rather useful subject-matter in Asia), had topped it off with a fancy degree from Oxford, and so was generally regarded as one smart cookie. In recent months, her PPP looked to be gaining sympathy in Pakistan since hardly anyone trusted the Musharraf government (and some of those who openly expressed their distrust wound up in jail.) And so in the world’s eyes, there was the U.S., with all its oft-proclaimed ideals about democracy, once again in bed with a military strongman because of the crisis of the moment. It would be no surprise if Bhutto had been making Musharraf very uncomfortable indeed. But now, no more. UCLA professor Tom Plate is a board member of the Burkle Center on International Relations, a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy, and the author of six books.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!