THE Budget does not once mention the word “gender” and ignores young people, complained Opposition Senator Khadijah Ameen, in her Budget speech yesterday in the Senate. She said the Budget has sowed fear and doubt in the minds of citizens, as she pointed to the promised introduction of Property Tax, and a costly Rapid Rail, plus a widening base of VAT collection.
She bemoaned the “draconian removal of gender from the Budget”, the “emasculation of Local Government” and the Government’s callous failure to ensure a social safety net for the most vulnerable citizens.
Ameen hit recent remarks by Finance Minister, Colm Imbert, as to whether the wealthy need GATE, as she said his ideas could lead to social segregation, plus discrimination akin to the favouritism of the secret scholarships under the former People’s National Movement (PNM) government.
“The Government should leave GATE intact,” asserted Ameen. She alleged that the Budget had failed to reach at-risk and frustrated youths, and create new opportunities for them.
The Budget had no gender-budgetting, that is, taking account of gender when making allocations.
Ameen warned that the Budget’s increase in the VAT collection base meant the Budget overall serves to reduce consumers buying power.
She urged that social programmes not be made harder to access, by added layers of bureaucracy, noting that the society’s most-needy persons may well be the persons who can least afford to spend a day waiting in a social welfare office for help.