What do we all hope to see in the Budget today?
This was the question posed by Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar to citizens, as Finance Minister Colm Imbert prepares to read the 2021 budget in Parliament this afternoon.
Persad-Bissessar said she hoped that the budget being presented today is one for the people and not one to add further hardship.
“We have seen the recurring nature of this Government to be completely ”anti-people” by making financial decisions that exclude the vast majority of the population.”
“It’s not too late to rescue our nation if the right priorities are addressed in this year’s budget. The focus must be on the people and this can be achieved through specific areas of importance,” she said.
Some of these include jobs, which she noted has been of major concern to citizens, especially those who lost their jobs prior to the pandemic, as well as those who were sent home as more businesses closed their doors.
“How can we preserve jobs?”, she asked. “We proposed that you can assist businesses through a wage subsidy. The UNC also had an entire National Economic Transformation Masterplan which outlined clear strategies to create jobs.”
Education was also on the list.
“What is the plan to ensure that no children are left behind because their families cannot afford IT devices? Further, what will be done to ensure that our students are equipped with the knowledge and skills to take advantage of the fourth industrial revolution?”
She called for no additional tax burden – no property tax or any other additional taxes.
She also said that food should be more affordable.
“I call on the government, in a year when many have been financially weakened, to even consider the removal of VAT on a wider variety of food items so we can ensure that our citizens do not go hungry.”
She also commented on the national debt which she said continues to rise, “as this PNM administration borrows without any idea or concern about the repaying of these loans. We must see plans to reduce this rising problem.”
She said any government that truly cares for its people will make decisions to directly benefit and empower the people.
“We the Opposition will do all that we can to hold the Government to account and to ensure the people are truly represented.”