Not a budget for the people, says Golding
The estimates of expenditure for the upcoming fiscal year is “not a budget for the people”, Opposition Leader Mark Golding has cautioned.
Last month, Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke tabled Jamaica's first trillion-dollar budget for the 2023-2024 fiscal year, which begins on April 1.
But, according to Golding, the budget “reflects the character and interests of those who this government primarily serves.”
He cited, as examples, the contentious wage negotiations with public sector groups and the failure to set aside funds for local government elections, which was last held in November 2016.
“Why wouldn't the government find a way to extend the period for the public sector salary negotiations to continue to fruition to allow the groups to make their measured, well-informed and transparent decisions on the government's wage offer instead of being bullied and cajoled by take it or leave it,” said Golding during his budget presentation in Parliament on Tuesday.
“And why is there no budget for the overdue, constitutionally required local government elections? Why?” he questioned.
Golding said Jamaicans are “suffering” through very challenging times and claimed that many are relying on his voice to stand in the defence of the people and the country's democracy.
“I will stand in defence of every Jamaican who is now languishing on a hospital bench or chair when they should be resting in a hospital bed, every Jamaican who has to be making hard choices every morning between having breakfast or giving the children lunch money to go to school,” he said.
This budget, Golding said, should speak to those realities that are faced by “real people with real lives, real families and real hopes and dreams.”
Follow The Gleaner on Twitter and Instagram @JamaicaGleaner and on Facebook @GleanerJamaica. Send us a message on WhatsApp at 1-876-499-0169 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.