Thursday, April 07, 2005

Government showing signs of cash crisis, says Opposition

GSLP/Libs Opposition has said it would not have supported the Government’s increases in a range of fees if these had been taken to the House of Assembly.

In a statement attacking the increased charges they accuse the Government of showing all the symptoms of being strapped for cash.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the Opposition wishes to make clear that none of these increases would have had our support had the matter been taken for a vote to the House of Assembly,” they said.

The GSLP/Liberals remarks came after the Government announced on Friday that a number of Regulations had been published the previous day, 31st March, introducing increases in the level of fees and other charges across a range of services.

“These revenue raising measures are in addition to the previous announced increases in electricity and water charges, which also came into effect last Friday. The Regulations that are said to have been published on Thursday 31st March were not available to the public on that day. Nor were they available to the Members of the House of Assembly and they have not been provided until yesterday, 5th April.”

“The Opposition considers it unacceptable that Regulations increasing charges should not have been available until after they had been implemented and has serious doubts about the legitimacy of these increases.,” said a spokesman.

The Opposition asserts that these measures form part of the 2005/2006 Budget and “since the estimates of revenue and expenditure for this year have not yet been tabled in the House of Assembly, it is impossible to assess their impact against the financial position of the Government at the moment.

They say that “in spite of Mr Caruana’s constant denial of cash problems, the increases brought in on the 01 April suggests that the projected surplus for the financial year just ended on the 31 March has not been achieved, despite the additional revenue raised by the Import Duty increases of July last year.”

The Opposition says that the “large number of increased charges now announced, many of which will go up by between 50 to 100 per cent, is symptomatic of the conduct of a cash starved administration desperate to raise money any way it can.”

“The number of items subjected to this latest round of increases is well over one hundred and the Opposition is now doing a detailed analysis of these higher level of charges and the previous announced increases in electricity and water so that it can provide a detailed response as to the effect and implications.”

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