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posted 12 Sept 2014, 21:10 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 12 Sept 2014, 21:14 ]
The Communication Workers Union published the following analysis of the 2015 budget.

A budget is an estimate of income and expenditure for a set period. Simply put it is an itemized summary of likely income and expenses for a given period. It is supposed to be an invaluable tool to help you prioritise your spending and your money regardless of how much or how little you have.

In the political arena a Government Budget is a Government document which reflects a Government’s proposed revenues and spending for a financial year. Such a Budget is supposed to answer questions such as how much money the Government spends, where are my tax dollars going, what services are to be provided in the Budget, how much will go to reducing debt, how much will be allocated to areas such as Health Care, Education, Crime etc.

Has the Minister of Finance fulfilled these theoretical aspects of a Budget; it appears so but if a careful analysis is done it would reveal that successive Finance Ministers has failed to provide a Budget document with any clear philosophy, taking into account our social, cultural and economic environment.

Additionally, nowhere in this presentation was an analysis done or a report given on what was supposed to be done in the last budget and the status of those said proposals. As such the ordinary citizens are not able to appreciate the performance of the Government based on its previous Budget Presentation. Further no mention was made of any of the critical analysis of fundamental concepts used or looked at in developing this Budget Statement.

What we have experienced once again is a political statement which began when the Prime Minister put on the hat of the Finance Minister and made a premature pronouncement on what can best be described as a “baby fund.” This pronouncement was very unethical as it is part of the Budget Statement and should have been left for delivery by the Finance Minister. Instead the Prime Minister attempted to politicise this measure in order to claim ownership of the idea.

On the surface some of the measures outlined appears to be well intended but based on recent expose and experiences with make work programmes such as Life Sport, one has to be very wary of the fallouts which initiatives like these can attract. To manage this Fund would be an administrative nightmare and it would create the opportunity for abuse and corruption by unscrupulous persons.

As such, more thought should have been given on mechanism to provide Social Services and support to the same people being targeted so that they could be guided on proper family planning, making themselves employable, and financial management, without putting any further burden on the Treasury.

We are quite disappointed with the fact that little or no mention was made about the allocation to the Ministry of Labour, where the Workers’ Agenda is supposed to be driven. Important initiatives such as the National Productivity Council and the Social Dialogue Process are all under the Ministry of Labour and are critical towards economic development.

It is also an embarrassment that in this modern era we still have workers being discriminated against as it relates to compensation because of gender and to make it worse this was being practised by the Government as an employer with former Trade Union Leaders in the Cabinet.

This Government having come into power on a Manifesto promise to make workers the centre of national development, should not have waited until its last year in office to address this situation.We however welcome the increase of the Minimum Wage but we are of the view that it is time we move away from a Minimum Wage and establish a Living Wage so that the less privileged in Society could have a decent standard of living.

As it relates to the proposed Legislation to regulate Credit Unions, it is hoped that good sense would prevail and those in authority would not blindly pursue an agenda that can destroy the philosophy of the Credit Union Movement: “People Serving people, Not for Profit, Not for Charity but for Service”, by putting restrictions/ regulations in place which could have the effect of turning a progressive Working Class Institution into a traditional financial institution the likes of which encourages classism.

We also note that no mention was made of the Government’s plan for TSTT’s shareholding arrangement which was centre stage within recent times and whilst mention was made of the settlement of outstanding negotiations in the public sector the Finance Minister as Corporation Sole with financial responsibility for TSTT is quite aware that TSTT Junior and Senior Staff Employees are still working on 2007 salaries in 2014.

Yet not one single word on the treatment of outstanding compensation packages for these workers in an essential industry which is a key driver in the development of the Telecommunication/Information Technology Infrastructure of our country.

As expected this was an election budget with a lot of Public Relations before and during the presentation, as it is the last budget presentation before the next General Elections and the People’s Partnership has played its hand by providing some goodies in order to persuade the electorate to give them another term in office, without any clear indication of how these initiatives would be financed or how implementation issues would be addressed. If our people would be fooled this time around it is left to be seen but for a Government that performed so miserably during its term of office we doubt that this latest political statement would do anything to erase the memories and missteps of the last four years.