$33B approved in National Assembly for Public Works Ministry

Government is seeking over $61 billion in supplementary funding for the period ending December 31, 2023, and a significant portion, some $33 billion, is intended to advance projects under the public works ministry.

On Wednesday, the National Assembly resolved itself into Committee of Supply to consider this supplementary paper, and Minister of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill, explained how the additional sums will be expended.

Minister of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill

Of this amount, $79 million is expected to finance additional resources for the Berbice Bridge Company.

Another, $230 million for the Transport and Harbours Department.

While the 2023 budget allocated some $600 million to facilitate works on the Demerara Harbour Bridge, an additional $568 million is being sought for critical rehabilitation works, specifically the rehabilitation of high span and fabrication, as well as the rehabilitation of pontoons.

He highlighted that the budgetary allocation for this line item has been exhausted, and the supplementary funds are intended to finance ongoing contracts.

“The monies that are being sought are to ensure that the contracts and the engagements continue,” the minister explained.

These works, he pointed out, successfully piloted by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic government, were neglected by the previous APNU+AFC Coalition administration.

“We were putting Guyanese at risk by having them use that bridge in the condition that we inherited it in 2020. The PPP has improved the safety of the Guyanese people, by ensuring Span 9 was rehabilitated and replaced, the damages on the high span were fixed, the proper alignment of the bridge and the buoys that hold the bridge stable are fixed, and the pontoons are fixed. That is what we have been doing,” the public works minister stated.

The minister assured that government is committed to prudent financial management to ensure that the well-being of the citizens and the development of the country are prioritised.

“The Demerara Harbour Bridge is a corporation that earns. When we come to this house, it is to supplement what they cannot do with the revenue that they garnered. When we come to this house and ask for additional support, it is to ensure that what they cannot do as a corporation, we support from the consolidated fund,” he added.

Meanwhile, for the community roads programme, which continues to enhance the lives of Guyanese in every region, $25 billion was requested, and $1 billion for construction and rehabilitation of urban roads.

Budget 2023 allocated some $31.9 billion and $1.5 billion for these programmes respectively.

Moreover, $2.1 billion is being sought to facilitate the construction of the Wismar Bridge, linking Mackenzie to Wismar, in Region 10. This sum is to advance the project.

Minister Edghill also clarified that there was no specific allocation for this bridge in the 2023 budget, since, at that stage, negotiations were ongoing.

This supplementary request also includes $1.5 billion for hinterland roads, $600 million for sea and river defences, $32 million for emergency works at the Kumaka and Supenaam Stellings, and $2.5 billion for the advancement of works at the Kingston Goods Wharf, as well as the Morawhanna and Port Kaituma stellings.