Ministry of Education, Guyana

Thursday, 04 April 2013 00:00

Manickchand tells Budget debate some opposition MPs stuck in a different era Featured

… says there isn’t time and space for this destructive behaviour

THE 2013 budget is but a step further in realising the dreams and commitment of the nation and has taken cognizance of the fact that there are challenges that exist and lie ahead.

This was the pronouncement by Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand who, in her budget debate presentation in the House yesterday says that it cannot be read in isolation but rather in conjunction with those of previous years. Manickchand told the House that it is no boast that the $208.8B is the largest budget but rather a statement of fact. “More money will go to more people in our country to help them in their personal development and help in the development of the country as a whole,” she said.

The minister sought to rubbish the arguments made by opposition speakers over the course of the two days who suggested that there is nothing for the people and said that more than $70B of the allocations are directed specifically to persons.

Minister Manickchand insisted that the budget has something for everybody, the benefits of which will not just be reaped now but for generations to come.
According to her, the budget has to be seen in a multi-year context. “Year after year budgets build on each other and build on gains that we have made and what the budget is trying to do is accelerate the gains we have made,” she asserted.
She was adamant that government is not looking to shy away from the fact that ‘all is not bright and beautiful’ and pointed to the theme of the 2013 Budget which she reminds, speaks of overcoming challenges.

Minister Manickchand warned that it is easy for the opposition to sit and lament the challenges that exist, “but what is required is working together.”
Manickchand, in seeking to illustrate her point, drew reference to the fact that Guyana’s Coast will always be under sea level, regardless of which party is in office. She pointed to the fact that even in the first-world there are significant challenges and used as an example, the fact that in Alabama, USA, there is still a problem of the lack of potable water.
“I recognise the challenges,” said Manickchand, and in a clarion call said “overcoming it calls for us putting our shoulders to the wheel.”

According to the minister, she would be the first to admit that in the sector under her remit, namely education, there are problems. She said that with several thousand teachers and even more students there are bound to be things going wrong at times. “We can tell you almost all of what you tell us,” said Manickchand, adding that constructive criticism is never rejected by the administration. “We don’t reject constructive criticism; what we say is ‘come with us, work with us’ to overcome the challenges.” She said that should there be an objective assessment of the 2013 budget, it would be recognised that there is something for everyone. “Don’t come postulating about sharpening your different instruments,” she chided.

The minister was adamant that should there be a constructive engagement between the government and opposition “we can do more.” “There isn’t time and space for this destructive behaviour, that has got to change,” said Manickchand and urged that “there is space for us to hold hands to take Guyana forward and to take our people forward.”

The budget, she reminds, combines with previous budgets to allow for a continued path of development. The minister, in taking a swipe at some in the opposition benches, said that some of the more aged members of the house might be stuck in a different era and “might not appreciate what we are trying to do here.” She reiterated that what Budget 2013 seeks to do is to continue in the trend of investing in the people of Guyana and drew reference to the fact that there was a time in Guyana’s history when more money was spent on Foreign Service than education, health and water combined.


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