Programmes in budget 2023 prioritise the most vulnerable – Human services minister

work on National Gender Policy to be completed this year

The work that will follow the approval of the 2023 National Budget will make a positive impact on the lives of the most vulnerable citizens.

This sentiment was passionately expressed and validated by Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr Vindhya Persaud as she defended the PPP/C Government’s fiscal package on Wednesday in the National Assembly.

Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr Vindhya Persaud during the budget debate

“We believe in community and infrastructural development. We are not a government that is oblivious to the challenges faced globally. We offer tangible solutions to the challenges in food security and the like, solutions that the region, that the world is looking at in combatting these global challenges,” she emphasised.

This year will feature the expansion of shelters, and opening of residential care facilities for persons living with disabilities.

The increases in the old age pension over the years significantly overshadows any similar ventures by the APNU+AFC government, with a recorded 67 per cent increase in just two years. This year, the old age pension will increase from $28,000 to $33,000.

To date, there has been a monumental 29,000 recipients of public assistance, owing to the interventions put in place by the PPP/C government.

The ministry’s eyecare programme offered 1,230 free tested spectacles in 2022, while the spotlight initiative has seen 15,000 calls received on the 914 hotline, a notable jump from the 12,000 calls last year. This forms part of the efforts to tackle gender-based violence.

“We will continue to serve you, continue to deliver with humility. This is only just some of what the 2023 budget promises for the people of Guyana, innovative, cross-cutting and simply spectacular!” the minister assured.

Minister Persaud said under the previous government, Guyanese were oppressed and stifled with tax-filled budgets, highlighting the increase in the income tax threshold by this administration.

Further, women countrywide have the opportunity to transform their lives through the Women Innovation and Investment Network (WIIN) programme. Such a programme, she pointed out, did not exist under the APNU+AFC government.

The free training programme has benefitted over 6,000 Guyanese, and the $100 million allocated in the 2023 budget will promote the expansion of this and similar projects.

WIIN was crafted to provide women with the tools to enable financial stability, and empowerment through accredited technical and vocational training courses.

Meanwhile, the Guyana Women’s Leadership Institute, through which the WIIN programme operates, has been upgraded to a private hub with modern classrooms and other amenities to improve its functionality.

“This is real empowerment. Nothing can be achieved without single minded focus and hard work. Mr Speaker, we are prepared for hard work,” she added.

The ministry’s ‘WE LIFT’ programme also gives women the opportunity to promote their businesses.

Meanwhile, the minister disclosed that work on the National Gender Policy, which aims to streamline gender issues in all sectors, providing the impetus for the elimination of negative economic, social and cultural practices that impede equality and equity, will be completed this year.

The Childcare and Protection Agency will be working on the establishment of a parenting manual and workbook, which will see structured training for parents across the country, as government works to eliminate child abuse.

The human services minister also called attention to the streetlight project, which was launched in 2022, to keep children off the streets. Works on this project are set to intensify this year.