PATRIOTIC Front (PF) political leader Mickela Panday is asking the population not to come to any final verdicts about the 2021 budget until the debate ends in the House of Representatives.
Finance Minister Colm Imbert presented the budget in the House on October 5 and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar opened the debate on October 9.
To date, a total of 27 MPs (13 government, 14 opposition) have spoken in the debate. When it ends, the House's Standing Finance Committee, which comprises all 41 MPs, will deliberate on the budget. Under the House's Standing Orders, the committee has a maximum of five days to complete its work and pass the budget.
The budget will then be debated by the Senate, which according to its standing orders, cannot pass money bills like the budget.
In a statement, Panday observed there have been many commentaries made about the budget while debate is ongoing. She believed the Government and the Opposition should have the opportunity to "debate the budget in its entirety before fair comment can be made."
Panday said after the debate ends and the budget is passed, the PF will hold a panel discussion to determine whether the budget provisions will bring about any meaningful change or economic improvement. Details of the discussion, she added, will be announced in due course.
In her own first comment on the budget on October 6, Panday was unimpressed. In a tweet, she said, "There is no doubt that the government has difficult decisions to make in uncertain economic times." But she added, "However, crisis is opportunity, it is time to think outside the box."