24 Mar BudgetDebate: Opposition walks out of Parliament (Published in the Jamaica Observer Mar 22 2017)
The Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) this afternoon walked out of Parliament as Finance Minister Audley Shaw sought to wrap up his final presentation on the 2017/18 estimates and expenditure (budget).
His presentation was marred by constant interruptions as members of Parliament from both sides of the floor traded harsh words to counter each others arguments. On several occasions, House Speaker Pearnel Charles had to hammer his gavel in a bid to restore order.
On one occasion when the MPs became boisterous, Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie intervened and tried to bring calm to the House.
While Shaw addressed concerns surrounding adjustments to the property tax, the Opposition chanted “roll it back!” to which Government ministers responded, “no roll back”.
Shaw continued his presentation and in conclusion said: “We (the Government) believe that this is a growth inducing budget. We believe it is a budget that allows for opportunity and hope for the people of Jamaica. We believe that it is a budget that paves the way from poverty to prosperity.”
However, when the minister suggested, “opportunities created in areas such as housing solutions, enumerated by the honourable prime minister,” Member of Parliament Luther Buchanan rose from his seat in protest saying “that is not true”.
Shaw continued to note, “…affordable financing, income tax relief…” but Buchanan again interjected, saying the minister “is misleading the poor people” before heading to the exit.
The other Opposition members followed suit in show of protest against the minister’s claims.