'No-Hope Budget'

OPPOSITION LEADER Portia Simpson Miller says the Budget rolled out by Finance Minister Audley Shaw is devoid of “heart and soul”, as it presented the administration’s fantasies but did not embrace the country’s realities.
Simpson Miller makes her contribution to the Budget Debate.

“This Budget has no heart; this Budget has no soul; and this Budget gives no hope,” declared Simpson Miller, cautioning that neither stability nor growth would flow from it.

Taking a jab at the finance minister, the opposition leader said the Budget spoke to “a decrease in the rate of decline”.

However, she said what the country needed at this time was economic development and progress.

Simpson Miller said the Government was attempting to use public relations to trick the Jamaican people. She argued that the stark realities facing Jamaicans were a far cry from the fantasies presented by the administration.

Citing 14 consecutive quarters of negative growth, the loss of more than 100,000 jobs and a dramatic decline in the standard of living as a result of the doubling of the poverty rate, Simpson Miller charged: “This is reality, not fantasy.”

Pulling out what she said was Shaw’s famous shopping list, extracted from his website – audleyshaw.com – the opposition leader resurrected a list of basic food items and the cost of these goods in Christiana in 2006 compared with current prices.

Christiana is a town in Shaw’s North East Manchester constituency.

Simpson Miller invited Prime Minister Bruce Golding to convene urgent discussions with the Opposition on “the hardships that our people are facing to help to find the solutions and relieve the people’s suffering”.

“I am making some suggestions, Mr Prime Minister. Work with it, because if you don’t work with it, I going to ‘chat’ it,” she said in a moment of humour.

She urged the Government to become “business friendly” to all businessmen and women – from the peanut vendor to multinational corporations.

“The State has a duty to facilitate, encourage and empower all business persons in the family, not just some.”

care to create jobs

Proposing a programme called Culture, Arts, Recreation and Education (CARE), the opposition leader said, if adopted by the administration, it could create jobs.

“I am proposing that a major sporting facility be constructed in every constituency in which inner-city communities exist.”

She wants these facilities to be equipped with a running track, swimming pool, gym, homework centre and a space for lifelong learning.

The opposition leader said funding could be sourced from the Jamaica Social Investment Fund, HEART Trust/NTA, the Social Development Commission and the CHASE Fund.

She also wants a pool of funds to be set aside for persons in the creative industries to enhance their businesses.

“These persons will be provided with professional support through the Jamaica Business Development Centre.”

Leader of the Opposition Portia Simpson Miller (centre) greets Prime Minister Bruce Golding after making her contribution to the Budget Debate at Gordon House yesterday. In foreground are (from left) Dr Peter Phillips, Anthony Hylton and Dr Omar Davies.

SOURCE: jamaica gleaner

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