Perusing the Guyana media, o e is stuck by the several commentaries on the budget from one extreme to the other; they are one sided, lacking objectivity. is hardly any serious critical analysis – I don’t mean just criticism of or attacks on the budget but an objective commentary, presenting both sides of funding of items and an informed view point defended with evidence.
Professors used to demand objective analyses when I was studying economics at the doctoral level in New York. Other American universities similarly trained students. Universities in India provide similar training to students. Even in other subjects, faculty required objective, ‘scientific’ analyses of issues.
One does not have to be an economist to analyze a budget. But an economist would tend to present an objective rather than a biased commentary. In studying Economics, one course (especially in development) dealt with studying budgets – comparing and contrasting budgets of what were then (1980s) called First World, Second World, Third World and Fourth World economies (countries); there are different terms (like developed, developing, emerging economies, etc.) for each category today. Budgets from World Bank reports were distributed to the class for a particular year. The professor required a ‘paper’ critically analyzing budget of one or more Third World country with that of a First World (Western) or Second World (Socialist European) country (any perspective of the student). Such skills provided one with the requisite ability to objectively analyze a budget.
Critical analysis is objectively examining and evaluating an issue (a budget, as an example) offering one’s interpretation and perspective supported with evidence. Critical analyses, not one- sided praises or attacks, would help the government to see another point of view and perhaps embrace it although that is yet to be experienced in independent Guyana.
Few commentaries on the budget offer critical analyses benefit and hurt communities. Commentaries in the papers are either platitudinal (all praise), generally coming from supporters of the government or very critical (all criticism) coming from supporters of the opposition or those who are perennial opponents of the government. There are very few middle-of-the- road, objective commentaries that offer sound analyses.
One other issue with any budget in Guyana, regardless of which party was or is in government, and it is also the case of other Caricom countries, is the views of the opposition is hardly given serious consideration for inclusion for funding. A budget was never amended to reflect the viewpoint or request from the opposition. Only once did I experience a government (in Trinidad) amend a budget at the request of an opposition MP. Prime Minister Patrick Manning allocated funding for a project after a convincing presentation by a member of the opposition. In the US, Members of Congress (from the government and opposition sides), in exchange for their vote tend to make deals for funding of projects in their constituencies. In USA, a Member of Congress (in the Senate in particular) can hold up passage of a budget or a group of House representatives can block a budget item or an entire budget unless their demands are met. To get their vote, the President generally concedes to their demand. In Guyana or anywhere in the Caribbean, MPs don’t have the kind of influence or power as Members of Congress to influence budgets or policies. Members of Congress provide serious representation to their districts, ensuring they get fair resources. The same can’t be said of MPs in Guyana.
Government, regardless of party in control, should give serious consideration to critiques, appraisals, and requests for (additional or reduced) or new item funding made by members of the opposing side or even a ruling party member to rearrange a budget once a convincing case is made.