Member of Parliament for St. Augustine, Khadijah Ameen, has described the 2021 Budget Statement as a ‘sad rehash of five years of broken PNM promises. Following the presentation of Budget Statement 2021 by Minister of Finance today, MP Ameen expressed disappointment that there was not ONE word on Local Government and Local Government reform. There were also no initiatives to bring relief to those affected by the Covid19 Pandemic. The minister only spoke about laptops for a few, while the vast majority remain without. He also indicated that property tax is coming and that there would also be increases in water and electricity rates. A main concern by many persons, especially university graduates, was that there was no form of job creation initiatives whatsoever.
She lamented that many constituents in St. Augustine are being hard hit due to loss of jobs and slow pace of business. Many are being evicted from their homes because they can no longer afford rent nor gain access to rental assistance grants which have been cut. Many small businesses are folding up, families are struggling to put food on the table and parents are struggling to purchase devices so children can access education.
She believes Local Government and local government agencies are the ones closest to the general citizenry, and they can play a significant role in bringing relief during the pandemic by doing regular sanitization of public places, public education, local economic development, identifying social needs and ensuring that resources reach the most vulnerable persons in each community. MP Ameen said she was shocked and disappointed that there was not a single mention of Local Government. It seems to not be a priority for this Rowley administration, after not a single mention of Local Government in the 2021 Budget Statement.
As MP for St. Augustine and Deputy Political Leader of the UNC, she gave her commitment to continue to speak out against the government’s harsh measures and to stand for what is fair and just for citizens.