Minister Harmon says opposition trying to vilify 2017 budget

GINA, GUYANA, Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The 2017 National budget is a comprehensive outline for the plans and proposals for the year, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon stated during the second day of the budget debates.

The Minister’s comments came after calls by members of the Opposition for the withdrawal of the Budget.

According to the Minister, Members of the Opposition are “trying to vilify a well-crafted budget for a narrow political agenda, withdraw the budget is the call for a party whose numbers are dwindling.

Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon

 

Harmon pointed out that the budget provided almost $1B to implement a series of renewable energy and energy efficient products.

The importance of the green agenda is underscored by having its purview  under the direct supervision of His Excellency, David Granger.

Minister Harmon acknowledged the works by the now Opposition through the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), however he pointed out that the LCDS had “a narrow vision of what Guyana’s potential is and therefore, we have to broaden it and therefore the green economy is that vehicle that we are using.”

The Department of Environment which is actively pursuing the “Green Agenda” will ensure all agencies are involved. According to the Minister, the Department has been tasked with crafting a ‘green state development plan’ to achieve the green agenda.

“The plan will re-orient the structure of the production base, not only in the transition to the low emission platforms, but also by diversification of the economy that reduces reliance on ailing traditional sectors such as sugar, rice and bauxite,” the Minister explained.

Harmon also pointed out that the plan will be aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)  to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all Guyanese.

Minister Harmon noted that a team from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is expected to be in Guyana from December 12 to 15, 2016 to engage stakeholders who will provide input in crafting the framework for the ‘Green Development Plan’.

According to the Minister of State, the plan will create policies that will trigger innovation, enterprise, new markets, green jobs and competitiveness.

Additionally, the Minister pointed out that 8.5 percent of the country’s terrestrial area is committed to protected areas status. However, when compared to the rest of the Guiana shield, Guyana has one of the lowest proportions of protected area coverage.

In order to achieve United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification target, Minister Harmon noted that almost two million hectares of land will be added to the national protected area system. This was a pledge made by President David Granger during a recent address at the United Nations.

Minister Harmon said, “The conservation of these two million hectares represent a transformative moment in Guyana’s history, and it would not only preserve the country’s natural patrimony for future generations, but will also cement Guyana’s role as an international leader in finding green solutions for a sustainable world,” the Minister explained.

Minister Harmon urged the Members of the Opposition to understand the reality of Guyana, adding that with the 2017 National Budget, the country will be a better place. The Minister also urged the Opposition Members to support the budget which was presented under the theme “Building a Diversified, Green Economy: Delivering the Good Life to All Guyanese”.

Meanwhile, earlier in the debates today, Opposition  Member of Parliament Indra Chandarpal  touted the same song of the lack of transparency on the part of the government as it relates to how it will go about achieving some of the things set out in the budget.

By: Isaiah Braithwaite

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