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Government’s planned televised pre-budget discussion next Wednesday is a farce designed to distract attention from ongoing national scandals including the Tobago sea bridge and ‘fake oil’ at Petrotrin.

This is the view of former Government minister Devant Maharaj.

The budget, he added, is already a done deal and won’t be influenced by such a debate.

In a press statement on Friday, Maharaj said Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young’s disclosure of the discussion is “a political mamaguy” that insults the population’s intelligence.

He added, “Since Government assumed office they have been lamenting the state of the economy they inherited, instead of dealing with the economic challenges.

“So what else new will they be adding to the national debate on the economy other than showing their incompetence to deal with the challenges? Is not the budget address by the Minister of Finance presumed to treat with these fundamental issues?”

Maharaj said that as a former public servant and Cabinet minister, he knew that, at this stage, the budget was virtually, cast in concrete.

Budget documents, his release added, had already been printed and some agencies already had an idea of their anticipated allocations. Projected revenue streams had been factored into projected expenditure in PSIP (public sector investment programmes), recurrent expenses, developmental projects, etc.

Budget consultations and planning began as early as April and it was at that point that any serious consultation should have been conducted. Every public servant in the Ministry of Finance knows this fact, so this last-minute consultation is a farce.

He wondered if participants at this consultation were to suggest some truly innovative idea, would Government “burn the already-printed budget documents” and have public officers rework the figures to fit these new ideas.

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