2023 National Budget debates wrap up after five days

Five days of intense debates for the $781.9 billion 2023 National Budget  was successfully brought to a close at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, Liliendaal on Friday.

The budget will pave the way for a vast number of major transformational projects to be undertaken throughout the year.

Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh

Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance , Dr Ashni Singh, in his closing presentation, said the budget debate is an essential aspect of the country’s annual economic cycle.

“[The budget debates] present an opportunity for members of the opposite side of the house to articulate their alternative vision for the country, to outline alternative initiatives and proposals, considering that in a normal functioning democracy, the opposition would consider itself to be a government-in-waiting.”

However, the APNU/AFC opposition marred the process through its ‘woeful’ failure to constructively contribute to the policy in their presentations over the five-day period.

“Instead of proposing alternative policies, programmes and initiatives, the APNU/AFC, during this budget debate, regurgitated the standard, overworked, and tired diatribe which has been subject to multiple rounds of scrutiny by Guyanese, and which the Guyanese people have rejected since March 2020,” Dr Singh pointed out.

He lambasted the coalition, which was absent for the closing presentation, for its failure to prudently manage the country’s economy, and for the empty manifesto commitments to Guyanese, which it failed to meet during its five-year tenure.

Minister Singh also reminded of the ‘dead economy’ encountered by the PPP/C government after entering government in 2020, noting that economic collapses like the one the country faced under the coalition are typical of the APNU/AFC.

“When the PPP/C came to government in 1992, Guyana’s debt-to-GDP ratio exceeded 600 per cent. As a matter of fact, at the end of 1991, it was 617 per cent, to be precise. Consider that— that your debt is six times that of your economy. When we left office in 2015, we had brought that down to less than 40 per cent. That was the legacy of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic,” Dr Singh said.

It is through its prudent financial management, resource allocation and strategic implementation of practices and policies, that the PPP/C was able to make this a reality.

That level of development and beyond, Dr Singh indicated, will continue to prevail with the successful implementation of Budget 2023.

“The nation and the world endured for five days, on the one hand, a display by the APNU/AFC of their abject incompetence, ineptitude, and information distortion and misrepresentation. Put simply, the people of Guyana were reminded once again why they decided to put the APNU/AFC into opposition.

“And similarly, they were reminded of why the people they wanted to entrust with the responsibility of navigating through this very challenging period of our country’s economic history were the People’s Progressive Party, and placed us into government,” Dr Singh said.

The 2023 National Budget will see Guyanese benefitting from billions of dollars in community and access roads, brand-new hospitals and medical centres, increased disposable income, and increased benefits for the most vulnerable members of society.

The budget, which is fully funded with no new taxes, is the biggest one tabled in Guyana’s history.