Budget 2018 has been read, and the parliamentary Opposition is unhappy with what it refers to as a “disastrous” budget. According to the party, its efforts to meaningfully contribute to the budget process were frustrated by the coalition Government.Responding to questions during a post budget press conference, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo noted that his party, with 23 years in governance, was willing to help the coalition with its ideas.Opposition Leader Bharrat JagdeoAccording to Jagdeo, the party submitted a motion to the National Assembly with over 100 proposals that would have been both growth-enhancing and welfare-contributing. But despite the potential to create a framework of development and growth, his party’s motion never saw the light of day.“We have run Governments several successful years. We’ve been in these positions. We’ve dealt with these issues. We know what it takes to create frameworks. And unless you get the data, which we have been asking for… We requested the data to prepare our presentation to come to (their) meeting, he refused to give us. Clearly he didn’t want a productive engagement.”Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira corroborated Jagdeo’s contention that the party had submitted their motion since October. She said there was ample time to have the motion debated, but it was continuously stalled.Shadow budgetThe motion in question was submitted since October 9 by PPP Parliamentarian Irfaan Ali. Among other things, it had recommended the reversal of Value Added Tax on education, zero rated items, essential food items, electricity and water, as well as local construction materials and heavy duty machinery.The PPP’s motion also advocated the removal of VAT and other taxes from businesses earning less than $400,000 monthly; the removal of VAT from local products from the forestry sector, and the reduction of VAT to 12 per cent, one of the coalition’s promises on the campaign trail.There were other recommendations: for the directive to licensed currency dealers, banks and cambios to limit the spread between buying and selling rates of the US dollar to G$3 or less.The motion had sought the restoration of the annual one month tax free salary bonus for all members of the disciplined services, as well as the active negation with unions for increases in salaries and benefits for public servants (who have already been told they will receive no Christmas bonus) and teachers.Among the motions’ other proposals was to allow public servants, in particular medical professionals, to choose whether they would be on a pensionable fixed establishment or on contract. It would also seek to cap benefits and allowances to ministers, in keeping with the caps on former Presidents Benefits (Amendment) Act of 2015.In the arena of social services, it recommended the restoration of the Single Parent Assistance Programme, with vouchers to assist with costs for day-care.It would also restore public assistance on a permanent basis for caregivers of disabled persons and patients with Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Virus (HIV/AIDS).The PPP motion would have recommended the increase of old age pension to $25,000, from the coalition Government’s last increase of $19,000. The Government did increase the pension in Monday’s budget- by $500.It would also introduce evening and night child care centres for women on the night shift; as well as increase public assistance from $7,300 to $12,000; as well as recommend published statistics on the number of recipients by region every six months.In agriculture, the motion proposed to “Resume negotiations with the Government of Venezuela with the intention of selling rice and paddy to that country,” as well as to “Negotiate with neighbouring Brazil for increased quotas for the export of rice under the Partial Scope Agreement.”There were also recommendations to “commence discussions with all the commercial banks lending to the industry, to review terms and conditions of loans taking into account the prices farmers are getting in order to ‘soften’ repayment conditions; bring supplementary provisions to the National Assembly to provide financial support to farmers in order to aid in the purchase of seed paddy and fertilizers; implement an aggressive marketing strategy in order to enhance current prices and secure new lucrative markets.”The motion proposed a number of other decisive measures, including the repeal of the Broadcasting Act 2017; implementing the UN Working Group of Peoples of African descent prison recommendations; and auction unallocated oil blocks.
US Govt 2016 donation…as Engineering Department drags foot on projects, plans – CoI hearsAlmost three years after US$41,000 was donated to City Hall by the US Embassy on behalf of the United States Government, for repair works on the Stabroek Market Clock, the structure remains unrepaired, as the restoration process was never orchestrated.City HallThis is according to City Engineer, Colvern Venture, who made these remarks under oath on Friday before the Commission of Inquiry into City Hall.“Based on my knowledge, those works weren’t executed,” said Venture when asked as to what is the current status of this operation.The clock, an iconic masterpiece that overlooks the city, is bounded by the Demerara River and houses one of the main business hubs, the Stabroek Market. During a statutory session in April of this year, there was a clash of ideas as to how the structure would be repaired.Ambassador Perry HollowayCity Hall’s cash-strapped crisis was also blamed for failing to conduct repairs as well as the fact that additional works on supporting erections were necessary.Town Clerk Royston King argued that these structures needed to be rehabilitated before works can be done. He stated that only two companies qualified for the works that are estimated at GY$56 million but did not have the funds nor the capacity to execute such.The then Deputy Mayor, Lionel Jaikaran, advised that he go ahead and ask Central Government for assistance. However, it has been six months and no intervention.Kitty MarketWith respect to the Kitty Market, the Commission heard that substandard materials were sourced to conduct the works which was part of the $250 million restoration exercise. Councillor Bishram Kupen submitted his statement, verifying that poor quality of wood was purchased for these works.Being the head of his department, Venture was questioned as to whether he was pleased with the pace of work at the site. This is given from the fact that those works were ongoing since 2015 and the he asserted that he was not satisfied with the progress.Stabroek Market clock remains unrepairedThere was a number of other rehabilitation works which were not completed, inclusive of the Mayor’s Complex.Millions of dollars were also awarded for the restoration of the City Constabulary Training Complex on Water Street, Georgetown, and according to Venture, those works were completed. However, the condition of that building paints a different picture. During a visit by the Commission to the Complex on Thursday, the rooms were water-logged and unkempt, with historical records stored among the termite-infested walls.He was asked as to whether the building was inspected to which he retorted that it was and it is his views that the structure is not “habitable”.Ironically, Venture had no knowledge whatsoever on the model houses that are being constructed by City Hall on Government reserves in Guyhoc.Delayed plansThe City Engineer dodged several questions that were asked by the Commission as it related to the time lapse of years for plans to be approved, when in fact it should take just a few weeks if all the documents are intact.After the plan is sent to the relevant agency, only one week is needed for internal processing before the draft is finalised.“With all things equal, within a week’s period that plan should be signed off,” Venture posited.This situation redirected particularly on a popular restaurant franchise which would have submitted five applications, and none were granted until the CoI was established.Chief Executive Officer of Camex Restaurants Incorporated, Terence Campbell testified on October 3, 2018, stating that he lost over $30 million because the plans were not approved.City Hall has an excess of 800 persons employed to the Council.
0Shares0000AFC Leopards players walk into the pitch for their CAF Confederation Cup tie against Fosa Juniors of Madagascar at the Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega on February 11, 2017. PHOTO/Timothy OlobuluNAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 18- AFC Leopards will after all travel to Mahajanga, Madagascar on Monday morning for their CAF Confederations Cup return leg tie against Fosa Juniors after the government bailed them out with 29 return air tickets.The reigning GOtv Shield champions had brought out their begging bowls to government streets, asking for help to aid them honour the tie. “The government has bought for us 29 tickets and this will go a long way in easing the financial burden that we expected. We now only have to worry about accommodation and local logistics,” Dan Mule, the AFC Leopards chair told Capital Sport.Since the withdrawal of their sponsors, AFC who are closing in on 55 years of experience have been willowing in financial difficulty with Mule crying out for sponsors to come on board and assist them keep their boat floating especially in continental football.“It takes an average of almost Sh7mn to ensure a team travels and plays an international match and definitely it will not be easy for us. More sponsors should come on board because we see other countries like Zambia, teams are hugely supported,” Mule added.He has however disclosed the club has been able to pay salaries for the first two months via their sponsors SportPesa who seem to have put one foot in and another out as far as partnering the team is concerned.AFC Leopards players line up before the Kenyan Premier League Super Cup clash against Gor Mahia on January 28, 2017 at Nakuru’s Afraha Stadium. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu“We went and talked to them and told them the problems we are facing. They told us they will help us pay salaries for the first two months until their appeal in court is heard. We are expecting that once this is complete at the end of the month, we can have some light at the end of the tunnel,” Mule further disclosed.AFC travel to Madagascar with a 1-1 result from the first leg played in Kakamega last weekend and will need either a high scoring draw or an outright win to book themselves a ticket to the first round.A loss or either a 0-0 draw will see them exit while a 1-1 result will force the game to penalties.Mule who will accompany the team to Madagascar is however confident that the team can do well especially having had no KPL match over the weekend and having time to prepare for the tie adequately.The team will however be without Ghanaian forward Prince Arkoh who ruptured his anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL) in the first leg tie and is set to spend the next six months off while right back Dennis Sikhayi remains sidelined with a groin injury.0Shares0000(Visited 2 times, 1 visits today)