–President Ali rebuffs Opposition Leader’s ‘friends-and-family’ claims regarding Budget 2023
–says every citizen is catered for under the umbrella of ‘One Guyana’
PRESIDENT, Dr Irfaan Ali on Tuesday dismissed claims made by Leader of the Opposition, Aubrey Norton, regarding the 2023 Budget, noting that every Guyanese is his family and they all will benefit from the government’s fiscal plans.
“I’m just as shocked and surprised. But what more can we expect? Where there is emptiness, there is a lot of noise,” the President said during a press conference at State House, on Tuesday.
Norton, in his reaction to Budget 2023 said: “This budget, in my opinion, is a marked failure. The most critical thing at this stage is inflation, and what inflation is doing to our country, and there are absolutely no measures in this budget to deal with inflation.”
“In large measure, this budget is a very large budget that puts a lot of resources in the hands of the PPP elites, their families, friends and favourites. This is not a budget for the people,” Norton said
According to the Opposition Leader, the budget was “anti-poor” and “anti-working class.”
However, the President said that the 2023 budget will pump billions of dollars into the economy through various initiatives that would rapidly transform and modernise the nation, while also bettering the lives of each Guyanese, something the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) had failed to do while in government for five years.
The Head of State, in dismissing Norton’s claims, said that the budget caters for the housing programme, which would allow some 25,000 Guyanese families to acquire their own homes.
“So that is 25,000 friends and family of the government. I take it, thank you. I take them as my friends and family because every Guyanese is my friend and family.
“So yes, yes Mr Norton, the 25,000 that will be getting their house lots under this government, is our friend and family. Because in your five years of government, you failed to give any of them anything,” Dr. Ali said.
He further highlighted that for the working class, the movement of the threshold from $75,000 to $85,000 will benefit tens of thousands of Guyanese.
For parents and guardians, the education grant will benefit 214,000 schoolchildren. The grant which stood at $25,000 will be increased to $40,000, thus releasing an additional $8.6 billion into the hands of parents for their children.
The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) government had introduced the cash grant to parents of children attending school, to meet other expenses associated with their children’s attendance, but this initiative was discontinued by the former APNU+AFC regime.
“Tell the Opposition Leader thank you for understanding that you are my friends and family. That is why we are working for you. That is why we’re helping you. So, the 214,000 children that are benefiting you are our friends and families,” the President said.
In outlining the other measures that will provide continued relief, the President said that thousands of consumers will benefit as a result of the reduction in freight costs.
He added that the budget also caters for the $3 billion salary adjustment that will benefit the 5,000 healthcare workers and 9,000 members of the disciplined forces.