by Linda Straker
Nazim Burke, Political Leader of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), has described the 2017 EC$1.1 billion budget which was presented to the House of Representatives last Friday by Finance Minister Dr Keith Mitchell, as a “classic election budget with empty promises.”
“With the elections now on the doorsteps — given his failure and the failure of this government to address the basic needs of the majority of the Grenadian people, he is telling himself that his only option at this stage is to put together a nice sounding package of empty promises and try to sell it to the people,” Burke told reporters in the NDC weekly Monday news conference.
Describing it as “dangling cheap tricks” in the eyes of the people, Burke questioned the true reason behind some of the fiscal relief measures. These fiscal reliefs are expected to affect individuals and corporate bodies.
Relief measures which will come into effect as of January 2017 are: tax registration amnesty, tax filing amnesty on annual stamp tax, removal of all income tax on pension income, a reduction in the price of cooking gas, and a reduction in personal income tax.
“Why were these measures not done before?” Burke asked, as he reminded reporters that a general election is constitutionally scheduled to be held by early 2018.
Burke is one of 3 opposition senators appointed in the Upper House of Parliament following the 2013 general election, which resulted in the New National Party (NNP) winning all 15 seats in the House of Representatives. He believes, that as the opposition leader in the House, he should be provided with all the budget documents that were laid in the House on Budget day.
He said that as a result of not receiving documents, he was unable to provide a thorough overview of the budget following the presentation. The Office of the Houses of Parliament has confirmed that Senators will be receiving their documents in time for the upcoming sitting of the Upper House.
On Monday, members of the House of Representatives began debate on the Budget. The Senate will debate the budget next week.