…“we can’t support this Budget, not in current form”Government came in for harsh criticism from Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo over what he described as the “visionless and disappointing” National Budget presented in the National Assembly on Monday.Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo speaking with the media on Monday evening. Also in photo are PPP Members of Parliament Irfaan Ali, Juan Edghill and the party’s Chief Whip, Gail TeixeiraJagdeo said that the $300.7 billion budget presented by Finance Minister Winston Jordan was one that was filled with repetition and disappointment, adding that they could not support such a budget in its current state. He said that the Finance Minister’s presentation was one that was incoherent and seemed as though it was written by different persons and then hastily combined for presentation on Monday. According to the Opposition Leader, the Budget fell far short of fulfilling objectives that are important to enhancing the welfare, well-being and future of the Guyanese people.“We had the Minister of Finance going on several times talking about the same Green State Development Strategy and coming back repeatedly to promises of the future in oil and gas; almost exact meaning, the essence of what he spoke together. His presentation was incoherent, disappointing, replete with repetition…replete with repetition and contradictions, incoherent and loaded with platitudes, including comments about possible undertakings that would not be realised within the next fiscal year,” Jagdeo said.The Opposition Leader, who recently tabled a motion of no-confidence against the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Administration, said with that looming over their heads he thought that the Government would have given ear to the issues identified and tried to alleviate them.“This was not a budget, it was sterile and full of platitudes hoping that they can deceive the people of this country by talking for a very long period and repeating words…the timeline for the implementation of this budget goes way into the next five years from now and some of them may never happen. Take for example the road, we have heard a lot of nonsense again about this road from Linden to Lethem, but most of it is filled with studies,” he identified.Jagdeo, a former Finance Minister himself, said that Minister Jordan used his budget presentation to confirm that the economy performed badly in 2018, identifying the – 1.8 per cent growth in the fisheries industry, 0.2 per cent growth in rice, 0.9 per cent in forestry and – 2.3 per cent in the extractive industry.“You would have noticed that the Minister at midyear had revised the target upwards to 3.7 per cent after they achieved 3.4 per cent in mid-year. The final outcome was 3.4 per cent and we are not sure that will be, given the history that this Minister how often he has misled the House when he presents the figures in November in his budget and then in January when the figures drastically change for the worse,” Jagdeo sought to remind.“He (Jordan) confirmed the economy performed badly. The Minister confirmed, and it was a shocking departure from the picture he painted last year when he presented his budget for 2018. He said that we are going to see a surplus on the balance of payment (BOP) and what happened was that we had a deterioration in the overall deficit of the BoP from $69 million projected last year to $187 million now. The current account from – $297 million, it’s now – $463 million and that is the outcome under current account of the balance of payment,” he added.Increase in tax collectionThe former President also predicted that the exchange rate would be under immense pressure. He explained that the net domestic credit to mining and manufacturing practically collapsed which ultimately means that people in those sectors are not borrowing. This, he attributed, to the high taxation.“The biggest story is how tone deaf this Government is. We heard the Government read out a series of measures at the end of his (Jordan) speech and he said these are the measures that will improve welfare. I doubt it. These are the measures that will enhance growth,” he said.The Opposition Leader said the most worrisome thing about Budget 2019 was the projected increase in tax collection, which would be a further burden imposed on the people.“Budget 2019 proposes a $31 billion increase in tax collection per annum, compared to 2018. This will represent an $88 billion increase in tax collection per annum, based on the 2014 levels. This increase in tax collection comes, even as, there have been no moves to cut down on extravagant and wasteful spending on things that do not bring benefit to our people. All considered, it is unclear who this massive Budget is helping. Is it helping our miners? Is it helping our farmers? Is it helping our pensioners? Is it helping our public service employees? Is it helping our productive sectors? Is it helping those in the retail trade? The answer in each of these cases, and in others, is no,” he noted.Jagdeo said that Guyana’s national debt continued to climb because of the squandering of the Government. When asked to provide two good points from Budget 2019, the Opposition Leader said that he was baffled as to what to say and eventually commended Minister Jordan’s attire and speculated that he may be a “closeted hater” of the Government hoping to pass this budget.