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Commentary by Dr. Rambachan on Budget 2016

The Budget Debate 2016 has turned out to be a review of the PP’s time in government rather than what the PNM plans to do over the next year and for five years that they have been elected to serve. Apart from the Minister of Finance who read the Budget, the others have spent most of their time reporting on what they found at their Ministries and the monies spent. There is no doubt that they are trying their utmost to paint the partnership as a corrupt and wasteful spender of the finances.

They have resorted to attack the character of young Barry Padarath, to try and make fun of his Hindu name and to belittle him He is strong and is courageous as well as fearless. Congrats to Barry! They have made the point over and over that they are in charge and will in the words of one of their MP”s be in our face for five years and we must deal with that. No problem, That is the democracy we live in . Well if you are in charge we will soon find out by the time the next budget comes around.

In the area of health Dr Fuad Khan former Minister as well as MP Dr Bodoe demonstrated how much work was done during our time as well as the quality of health facilities in Carenage and Couva. It is sad that there are blinkers being put on to avoid having to congratulate the PP for doing some really good things in health including the Private Public sector partnership with respect to kidney dialysis.

I am sure when Mr Fazal Karim speaks we will hear about Tertiary Education and the paradigm we created over the last five years.

Every PNM speaker has stuck to these objectives. In the process the country awaits what the PNM Govt intends to do about the blossoming crime and in particular murders, what they intend to do about school violence and bullying, what they intend to do about budget deficits should the price of oil and gas remain the same. In the National Security Budget apart from the salary increases there are no new items which suggest that the PNM Govt has a plan to stem the tide of murders. What we keep hearing from the minister is the same old rhetoric.

One area of concern to me is local government which is to be placed under the Ministry of Finance . This year 2016 has seen a cut in both recurrent and capital expenditure for Local govt.In the San Fernando City Corporation there have been significant cuts in salaries and wages is this an indication that people are going to be sent home? If there was going to be real devolution of power and authority to Local Govt as proposed in the campaign then why these cuts and why not more resources for Local govt.

Remember that when the formal debate is over we have a period of five days to examine all the details of expenditure, revenue and development projects. A lot of questions need to be asked, a lot of clarifications are required. WE will be asking some hard questions. may be 63 billion dollars of questions and if we do not get answers then the people will judge who is really in charge.

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