…decries “paltry” $500 to pensioners…Union suggestions ignoredThe Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) is not that optimistic about the livelihoods of workers and is accusing Government of ignoring its proposals for the 2018 National Budget presented last week. At the same time, the Union body on Saturday condemned much of the outlined measures for the new fiscal year, expressing much vexation for the “paltry” $500 per month increase that is being given to old age pensioners across the land. FITUG said the Budget “failed to live up to the high expectations of the working-people” who looked forward to measures that would have lessened their burdens.According to the Union, such expectations, undoubtedly, were heightened by the “cheery, colourful billboards and the many advertisements that have appeared in the electronic media to promote the Budget.”The combined Union body added that while its suggestions were largely ignored, it will remain resolute in advocating for the rights of workers with the aim of improving their well-being and standard of living.“We are not daunted and we will continue to promote our suggestions recognising their importance in improving workers’ well-being and their standard of living. We must share too our vexation that a paltry $500 per month or $16 per day increase was given to the old aged pensioners who clearly deserve a much more realistic increase, especially in these times,” the Union observed.FITUG is hopeful that Government will re-examine the $500 increase. The Union meanwhile commended the Administration’s decision to remove Value Added Tax (VAT) on private education and to grant tax-free status to leave passage allowances for employees in the Private Sector.FITUG vented further of the Administration’s decision to not increase the Income Tax threshold, something to which it said workers were eagerly looking forward. The Union feels the 2018 Budget did not advance any serious policy regarding job preservation and job creation, in addition to the absence of a clear policy to assist the implementation of the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP).FITUG also decried the treatment of thousands of workers who stand to be affected by the reduction of the sugar industry, seeing the moves as “ill-considered”. Commenting on the oil and gas industry, the Federation says it is concerned that there is an absence of definitive statements on the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF). Additionally, FITUG highlighted the stance taken to abandon the Amalia Falls project despite compelling arguments for it to be pursued.FITUG surmised that workers were in a different boat from “The Journey to the Good Life continues” tag announced by the Finance Minister.On Monday last, Government tabled in the National Assembly a budget to the tune of $267.1 billion where several measures to support its green agenda and improve various key economic sectors were announced. However, Finance Minister Winston Jordan noted that the initial projected growth of the economy was 3.8 per cent, which was revised by midyear to 3.1 per cent after the economy only grew by 2.2 per cent in July of this year. The budget debates begin tomorrow.