Minister Sharma’s presentation during Budget Debates 20161591 10 Feb, 2016
Mr. Speaker, as I rise to participate in the debate of the motion for the approval of the Estimates of the Public Sector and the Budget for the Financial Year 2016, let me first commend my colleague, Minister of Finance Hon. Winston Jordan on delivering the 2016 Budget on January 29, 2016, which was accomplished in less than 6 months after delivering Budget 2015 on August 10, 2015.
Mr. Speaker, Budget 2016 was presented under the theme “Stimulating Growth, Restoring Confidence: The Good Life Beckons” and I have no doubt that our Coalition Government will achieve these goals in this of our 50th Independence celebration, our Golden Jubilee that was designated by His Excellency as "The Year of Renaissance".
Mr. Speaker, this simply means a revival of or renewed interest in our pledge to make our cherished homeland a place of unity, security and prosperity.
Mr. Speaker, there are periods in the history of a nation which the historian, from the vantage-ground of a later age, identifies as being watersheds in the development of that nation. These periods could be said in a general way to mark the end of one era and the beginning of a new.
They will witness the changes of outmoded laws; the disintegration of alien value-systems; the triumph of more humane concepts of social organization and interrelationships; and the emergence of new norms that are more consistent with the prevailing national culture.
They are characterized by an upsurge of creative activity; a lively interplay of fresh and novel ideas; a spirit of bold experimentation and innovation; and a pervasive confidence that manifests itself in the enthusiastic and energetic way in which the masses involve themselves in the task of nation-building.
Mr. Speaker, this upsurge of creative activity, commence with Budget 2015 "A fresh approach to the good life in a Green Economy".
Mr. Speaker, Budget 2015 sets the platform for the Government’s vision of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana in the year 2020 and beyond.
It provides measures to ease the financial burden on citizens, while improving their living conditions. Some of these measures were:
* An increase of the minimum wage from $39,540 to $50,000. Representing a 26.4 percent increase;
* All public servants above the minimum wage received a 5% increase plus $5000, allowing for greater increase in the lower income brackets;
* A 54% increase in the hourly rate paid to schools’ Sweeper/Cleaners;
* Workers no longer have to pay Income Tax on their NIS contributions;
* Old Age Pension increased from $13,125 to $17,000. Representing a 30 percent increase;
* A 10% increase in Public Assistance from $5,900 to $6,500;
* An increase in the uniform allowance voucher from $1,500 to $2,000;
* Set of tax exemptions for Toshaos and small and medium-scale gold miners;
* The zero rating of many items that attract VAT;
*And many more things too numerous to mention.
Mr. Speaker, Budget 2016 was crafted in keeping with the Fresh approach- Vision 2020 and the policies of the APNU/AFC Government that was adumbrated by His Excellency address to the National Assembly on January 14, 2016 under the theme.
INDEPENDENCE & RESILIENCE – Our people’s path to economic progress and I quote
"It is time for a fresh start – a new beginning. It is time to redouble our efforts to
eradicate poverty. Our government is committed to promoting sustained
economic growth with enhanced distributive justice so that inequalities are
reduced and opportunities are increased.
Our vision is for every Guyanese to be able to enjoy a ‘good life.’ Achieving a
‘good life’ is not a wish or a dream. It requires greater equality of opportunity in
order to attain economic growth. A ‘good life’ is about removing inequalities
and providing opportunities for every citizen to be the best he or she can be".
End of Quote.
Mr. Speaker, I notice that after the Honourable Minister of Finance concluded his budget speech, the Honourable Members of the opposition appeared to be confused and after listening to their presentations, the Honourable Members are still confused and trying to figure out what really happened. Because the PPP/C knows that they leave a heavily overdraft consolidated Account.
Mr. Speaker, the old consolidated fund closed with a negative $47.4B in 2004 and on May 8, 2015 the New Consolidated Account had a negative $27.7B a few days before the new government took office.
Mr. Speaker, an analysis of the New Consolidated Account revealed that it started to slide in May 2014 with a closing balance of a negative $8.7B on May 9, 2014. The then government appears went on a spending spree by the December 2014 with a closing balance of a negative $29.9B on December 31, 2014 and prior to the announcement of the 2015 General and Regional Elections.
Mr. Speaker, the APNU/AFC Budget measures is in support of its programme of ‘greening’ the economy and protecting the environment.
Mr. Speaker, one would thought that Budget 2016 would have received the unequivocal support from the Honourable Leader of the Opposition, who received United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Champion of the Earth award and US$40,000 in April 2010.
However, it appears that the Champion of the Earth wants to be the Champion of the Poor. The kind of poor, who can afford to buy 12 years old used cars at $3 M, and SUVs for over $10M but cannot afford to purchase a news tire at reduce cost.
Mr. Speaker, this Champion of the Poor, never bought a 12 year old SUV or used tires for his vehicles. As a matter of fact if the cameras should turn their lens on the Vehicles being driven by the Honorable opposition members, the new champions of the poor it should show vehicles that in under 4 year old with new tires, New Vehicle and New tires. Out there looks like New York, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker these Champions of the Poor in opposition when they were in office for 23 years never sought to make it possible for the working class to afford new cars and SUVs by the reduction in the exercise tax.
Mr. Speaker, Under this APNU /AFC Government, the working class can enjoy that good life of owing a new vehicle with new tires and having a sense of safety at a reduces cost.
Mr. Speaker, a used 2012 Toyota Premio under 4 years with the present tax regime, 1500cc with CIF value of $4,099,400 would cost $ 8,963,748.
Mr. Speaker, under the proposed tax regime, the same vehicle now will cost $6,895,191 a savings of $2,068,557.
Mr. Speaker, surprisingly, a used 2012 Toyota Premio under 4 years with the present tax regime, 1800cc (larger engine) have a CIF value of $2,018,800 would cost $ 5,093,184.
Mr. Speaker, under the proposed tax regime, the same vehicle now will cost $3,735,184 a savings of $1,358,248.
Mr. Speaker, it should be noted that a 2010 Toyota Premio, 1800cc with mileage of above 60,0000 km at present cost $3,581,825 with represent a minor increase of $153,359.
Mr. Speaker, this is a small price to pay for the peace of mind of owning a fairly new vehicle with farless mileage and with far more advance features in safety and design and you can rest assure that the vehicle would come with fairly new tires and would provide you with 5 years services before any major engine over hall
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