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While women make up 30 per cent of the Guyanese workforce and make significant contributions to society, there is not a single policy initiative that has been included in Budget 2018 that caters for their needs, future development and advancement on a personal or professional level.PPP/C Members of Parliament, Pauline Sukhai, Clement Rohee, Gail Teixeira, Juan Edghill and Dr Vindhya Persaud during Wednesday’s press conferenceThis is the view expressed by Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) and Shadow Social Protection Minister, Dr Vindhya Persaud, who expressed grave disappointment in Government for totally “sidelining” women in its financial plans, something she said has happened before.But the MP told the media on Wednesday during a People’s Progressive Party (PPP) press conference that this move also extended to various other groups, especially those vulnerable in society, including the differently abled, the elderly and children.“This budget leaves much to be desired when it comes to having a meaningful impact on any one group of people…In fact, in 26,000 words in the Budget and not one paragraph was dedicated to issues affecting women. I think when women continue to be sidelined, it is not conducive to sustainable economic development and progress,” she stated.Dr Persaud noted that women have been facing serious challenges especially when it came to literacy, employment, abuse, harassment and rape, and none of these issues were dealt with in the Budget speech delivered in the National Assembly on Monday by Finance Minister Winston Jordan.“In fact, when looking through the budget speech, one would be likely to think that women’s welfare is hunky-dory. It is not! If we look at both the rural and urban areas in this country, some women are not employed in any meaningful way in this country,” she added.The Opposition MP also highlighted the fact that there have been no new initiatives to help women get jobs, or to help with the development of women in a tangible way. In cases where women have made strides professionally and academically, some are still denied meaningful job opportunities, she said.Meagre pension increaseDr Persaud also raised concerns over the meagre increase of the Old Age Pension by $500 and the fact that Government has proposed having the pensions paid through electronic mobile money.“For that to even happen, the elderly person needs to buy a phone. Five hundred dollars adding on to your pension obviously can’t buy a phone. So, where is the benefit to the elderly people? There is no subvention on electricity, none on water and they still have to pay everything else like everyone else, and they still have to deal with VAT. And now you’re telling them to buy a phone and that’s how you’re helping them to get their pension?”She said that move could only be best described as a slap in the face of the elderly people and it showed no compassion and care for this group of people.The PPP/Civic MP also pointed out that while the elderly received a meagre increase on their pensions, Government continued to put large sums towards the hosting of events.She also stated that Budget 2018 did not cater properly for people living with disabilities and those in need of public assistance.Budget 2018 contained very few benefits, one of which was the increase in public assistance to $8000, which represents an increase of approximately 36 per cent over the period of two and a half years.Teachers who work in interior locations will also benefit from the new measures to be implemented for Budget 2018, including an 80 per cent increase in remote area incentives.In an effort to move and retain teachers in far-flung areas of Guyana, the Finance Minister said the remote area incentive would be increased from $5000 to $7000 and from $9000 to $12,000.Meanwhile, companies and individuals will be granted amnesty to file outstanding tax returns and pay outstanding taxes in 2018.