Endless possibilities exist To the Editor
Guyana Chronicle
March 22, 2002

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I cannot see why Mr C.N Sharma would say that the 2002 Budget has nothing for the poor, but then again, I can see why he can say that, maybe he cannot analyse the budget in its entirety (he does not know how).

A look at this year’s budget would reveal a number of governmental policy measures aimed at reducing the poverty rate that exists in our country. The Ministry of Human Services and Social Security, for instance, has been allocated additional spending that will help to alleviate poverty in Guyana.

As the budget states, “The Government will spend nearly $2 billion this year on projects to be implemented under SIMAP, Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF), LEAP, the Poverty Fund and the Poor Rural Communities Project. On completion, these projects will have a decided and measurable impact on improving the standard of living of the people, especially the poor”. This means that the poor will have a better opportunity for self-sufficiency and being able to take care of themselves.

On the other hand, Mr Sharma makes poor people totally vulnerable and at his mercy by sharing a little food and clothing every week. Further, he interrogates them by asking very personal questions and for every one with access to a television set to witness. Poor people need to regain their dignity and self-worth by allowing them to be self-reliant, exactly what the government is doing. I am not saying his distribution of these items is wrong but he is going about it the wrong way.

For example, the Linden Economic Advancement Programme (LEAP) in particular is geared towards assisting the people of Linden to `get back on their feet’ since the Bauxite Industry has failed.

Other programmes geared towards improving the general standard of living for Guyanese and vouchers for textbooks and examination fees for students of poor families. Also, the provision of cash and other support to persons temporarily unemployed while they seek alternative job opportunities, the provision of the much-needed aid to pregnant and lactating mothers.

And these are just a few of the general programmes geared towards improving the general standard of living of the poor.

The level of poverty can be measured by a people’s standard of living as well as access to basic living facilities and further. This Government is aware of the fact and to this end has embarked upon development in the specific sectors. Education, water, housing, roads, electricity and access to proper health facilities are all part of the poverty alleviation strategy used by this year’s budget.

So I cannot see how C.N and others, who want to follow him, can say that the budget has nothing for the small man.

Maybe what is on Mr Sharma’s mind is that the government will take away his thunder by looking out for the poor, the job he thinks he is doing so well. Sorry to burst your bubble, the Government has a wider and more managed picture to look at.

It is narrow-minded to only look at a raise in salary or an increase in the tax threshold. Support comes in many forms and we Guyanese need to open our minds to the endless possibilities that exist around us.