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Opposition to tackle gov't Budget today

Published:Tuesday | April 13, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

The parliamentary Opposition is today expected to attack the budgetary plans of the Government when its Finance Spokesman Dr Omar Davies responds to the $503-billion package presented in Parliament last week.

Finance Minister Audley Shaw told the House of Representatives last Thursday that he plans to finance the Budget through tax revenues and grants amounting to $326.3 billion and $176.3 billion in loans from the domestic market.

Yesterday, People's National Party Chairman Robert Pickersgill told The Gleaner that the Opposition's response to the Budget would take the form of a "midterm review of the Government".

"Apart from bemoaning the absence of a growth path, just like in our interventions before, we will make suggestions and our spokespersons will continue to do so," Pickersgill said.

Last year's proposal

The finance spokesman's presentation today will set the tone for a hectic week of parliamentary debate. Last year, Davies lashed the Government for what he called an "incredible" Budget and urged that the Government undertake critical spending to boost the economy.

Among the proposals from Davies was for an urgent programme of infrastructure works to be funded from money out of the Universal Access Fund (UAF) and the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF).

Prime Minister Bruce Golding later embraced the proposal for the use of TEF money for projects, but said the UAF would not be touched as it was not set up for that purpose.

"We will be pointing out where there is an absence of provisions in critical areas. We will do what we have to do as an opposition," Pickersgill said.

This week's presentations

During tomorrow's continuation of the debate, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett will present for the Government, while Opposition Spokesman on Energy Phillip Paulwell will speak for the Opposition. Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller will speak on Thursday.

Prime Minister Bruce Golding will make his contribution next Tuesday before Shaw closes the debate next Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Shaw is scheduled to meet with members of the micro, small and medium-size (MSME) enterprises on Friday.

The meeting will take place at the Stella Maris Conference Centre at 6 Shortwood Road, St Andrew.

According to Professor Rosalea Hamilton, president of The MSME Alliance, the post-Budget forum is of paramount importance to the sector.

"The MSME Post-Budget Debate is expected to provide an opportunity to hear directly from the finance minister about how the IMF-prescribed macroeconomic policies will help them to make the required adjustment to a new economic environment and to dialogue with the minister about the challenges MSMEs currently face," Hamilton said.

daraine.luton@gleanerjm.com