Budget 2021 is one with a vision – Minister Walrond

$2.74B for the Ministry would advance development plans

Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Hon. Oneidge Walrond says Budget 2021 has made provisions for revival, and would lead to the growth and development of the economy.

The Minister made this statement during an interview with DPI on Friday.

“I was quite impressed with the foresight that was put into the preparation of the Budget by the Minister with responsibility for Finance. Generally, as a citizen, this Budget presented many reliefs for the general population, for the regular Guyanese, all Guyanese,” she said.

Minister of Tourism, Industry, and Commerce, Hon. Oneidge Walrond

The Minister noted that while provisions for the Eccles to Mandela road, consultancies for the Guyana to Suriname Bridge and the new bridge across the Demerara River are among the Government’s major development plans, provisions have also been made so that the ordinary man can immediately experience an enhanced quality of life.  

“The COVID relief measures to be continued, the provision for school grants that was included in the Budget, infrastructure projects for community involvement, the removal of more taxes and provisions for that and VAT, and I felt that it was a Budget to give relief to citizens that would have been so burdened from a large part of the Covid pandemic,” she said.

Minister Walrond said she is pleased with the $2.74 billion allocation for her Ministry as there are several plans to advance tourism in the Covid environment, even as measures have been put in place for business ventures.

“We are not shy nor afraid of being asked or being able to defend the figurers because they are defendable. Every Budget line item outlines a plan and a vision. When the Government came into power, we came in with a manifesto which is a promise to the people of Guyana and I wanted to have the opportunity to show this is how we plan to implement these plans for the public to see.

Now that the Budget has been approved, Minister Walrond is eager to start her work programme.  Some of the highlights and programmes to be rolled out include a $250 million allocation for small businesses. In October the PPP/C Administration raised the small business grant ceiling from $200,000 to $500,000 to expand their operations or assist with start-ups.

Some $200 million has been allocated to the National Quality Infrastructure Project, while $135 million has been set aside for the procurement of the Electronic Single Window System to improve the ease of doing business.

Further, the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Council will be established to promote entrepreneurship in Guyana.

The Belvedere Industrial Estate is also set to create 120 jobs through the projects that will utilise those facilities, while $100 million has been allocated to purchase equipment to operationalise and furnish the Lethem Incubator. Industrial estates would also be established in Regions Two and Ten.

In the tourism sector, $185 million has been budgeted for the construction of the Hospitality Tourism Training Institute to train and improve the quality of personnel and equip thousands of young people with skills to take up jobs in the sector.

Work will continue with Regional Tourism Committees to promote domestic tourism, including events-based tourism. The Ministry will also seek to increase air connectivity and make access easier for airline operators and reduce the cost for air travel.

Additionally, more than $30 million has been allocated in Budget 2021, for training within the sector. This will better position the Ministry and Government to keep abreast with evolving trends within the sector and ensure they meet visitors’ expectations.

It was also highlighted that every single region in the country now has several tourism hotspots that offer a rustic appeal to locals, the diaspora and international visitors. The Ministry intends to expand this campaign in 2021 in anticipation of more Guyanese vacationing locally.

The $383.1 billion 2021 Budget was presented under the theme “A Path to Recovery, Economic Dynamism and Resilience.”

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