President expresses hope for unanimous support for Budget 2014
Georgetown, GINA, March 27, 2014
President Donald Ramotar said that the 2014 National Budget is a reflection of the humanitarian position of the Government; ensuring that benefits redound to the broadest cross-section of Guyanese citizens.
Speaking at a press conference today, he said the Government is not only consolidating from the progress already made, but is also continuing to create the conducive environment that will allow for further social and economic growth. This is the main objective of the various measures that were announced.
The National budget presented under the theme “A Better Guyana for all Guyanese”, and amounting to $220B, was presented on March 24 by Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh. Among the measures included are: $6B to turn around the sugar industry’s fortunes, $500M to boost the rice industry’s competitiveness, $200M for agriculture diversification, $10,000 cash grant for every public school student, $1B for Rural Enterprise Development, $800M to develop a Tourism and Hospitality Institute, $100M for dredging Port Georgetown, $3.7B capital expenditure support for the Guyana Power and Light (GPL), $3.2B to subsidise Linden electricity, 50% increase for electricity tariff assistance for pensioners on GPL grid, 5 % increase in Government pension, $1B for Hinterland Road development, and $1B to Clean Up the country.
“The measures in the budget will impact positively on people’s lives… I hope that the budget will pass so that we can move our country forward,” the President said.
He spoke of the hefty sums injected into the social sector, particularly the area of education. Making reference to the measure that will see the provision of $10,000 to every school child in the public school system, the President said that this speaks to the importance which the Government attaches to development of the nation’s human capital.
President Donald Ramotar speaking to the media
This intervention also builds on several others that have been taken by the administration over the past few years such as the uniform assistance and school feeding programmes.
The education sector took the largest chunk of the budget, $32.3B, followed by health, $21.5B, security with $19.5B, roads and bridges $13.7B, energy and power generation $7.7B, housing $4.4B and water $2.5B among others.
He also spoke of the large sums that have been allocated for infrastructural development in all sectors. Particularly mention was made of the interventions for vulnerable groups such as pensioners and the specialty hospital, which, the Government plans to move forward with, despite setbacks at the political level.
These investments, he said, are all aimed at improving the quality of life for the vulnerable while at the same time creating the conditions for further development, boost tourism and broaden the country’s revenue base.
When asked about the Opposition’s pronouncements with regards to the budget, President Ramotar expressed the hope that parliamentarians will approach it with the interest of the people in mind.
He reminded that calling for more is one thing, but to vote against the budget is irrational and expressed the hope for better sense to prevail.
Debates and consideration of the estimates commence on March 31 in the National Assembly.