Resource allocations to be prioritised to advance green economy – Finance Minister
GINA, Guyana, Monday, November 28, 2016
The theme of the 2017 National budget is an articulation of a green agenda, which spans social, environmental, and economic sustainability issues, Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan said during the presentation of the 2017 National Budget.
In light of this, the minister said Government will prioritise resource allocations to advance the nation towards the green economy.
The green agenda encompasses environmental protection, citizen security, employment and value chain creation, energy, health, education, social protection, and resilience against climate change and economic shocks. It is about sustainable development, embracing a broad range of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and aligning perfectly with multi-dimensional progress, Jordan stated.
“The Government’s green agenda, which has been consistently ventilated by His Excellency, President David Granger, and expressed in many forms – be it green economy, green development, or green pathway – sets out a vision that takes a broad, multi-dimensional approach towards achieving a good life for all,” Minister Jordan explained.
The government has committed to expanding protected areas by an additional two million hectares, by 2020 in recognition of the country’s commitment to the SDGs and Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, Minister Jordan explained.
In 2017, Government will engage in consultations with stakeholders, to begin the process for delineation of the expanded area and design a related management plan. These actions are consistent with meeting the commitments under the Paris Declaration and in keeping with Guyana’s commitment as a signatory to the Convention on Biodiversity, the Finance Minister added.
“The sustainable management of our environment will see additional resources being allocated for greater compliance and monitoring, and strengthening of operations by regulatory agencies. To complement these initiatives within the regulatory framework and curb our less than desirable consumption and production patterns, we will be introducing an environmental levy on the manufacturers and distributors of products that use non-returnable metal, plastic, and glass beverage containers,” Minister Jordan said.
Exemptions of customs duties and taxes will be granted on greenhouses and their component parts, among other concessions.
Green state plan
Additionally, Government will embark on the design of a Green State Development Plan, with support from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) which will serve as the template to guide the rapid transformation of the economy.
The Finance Minister pointed out that the forest and climate partnership agreement between Guyana and the Kingdom of Norway which was signed in 2009, is to safeguard Guyana’s rainforest, improve forest governance, and support Guyana’s holistic green development, including the transition to green and renewable energy. He referred to a meeting held in the margins of the United Nations Climate Change Convention, in Marrakech, Morocco, at which President Granger and Minister Vidar Helgesen of Norway agreed to have in place, early in 2017, an agreed work plan for detailing Guyana’s clean energy transition.
Alternative energy sources
In 2017, Government will review and expand the scope of alternative energy solutions including the use of renewable energy sources and co-generation alternatives. Other immediate measures that will be taken towards this expansion includes; lowering of the excise tax on hybrid and electric vehicles; granting of tax exemptions to set up electric vehicle charging stations; zero-rating the excise tax on biofuel and specially designed refuse trucks; restriction of used tyres; and reduction of taxes on new tyres.
Additionally, the Government will prioritise evidence-driven and cost-effective options to determine Guyana’s renewable energy choices to successively transform the energy mix and reduce the share of non-renewable energy sources in the overall ratio, Minister Jordan explained.
Government will soon release the outcome of a review of the Amaila Falls Hydroelectric Project, which was undertaken by Norconsult, the Norwegian-contracted consultants, the Finance Minister said.
Guyana Energy Agency
The sum of $1B was allocated to the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) to implement a series of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, to lead the way in transitioning towards greater renewable energy use.
The renewable energy programme for 2017 will entail the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on the roofs of 64 government buildings. With a combined installed capacity of 1.36 megawatts (MW), these installations will result in annual energy savings of 1.86 gigawatt hours (GWh) or annual cost savings of approximately $140M.
Additionally, under the renewable energy programme, $264M has been budgeted for the installation of the first ever solar farm at Mabaruma. When operational, the 400-kilowatt solar farm will afford an additional 17 hours of electricity to the 3,000 residents of the Region One town.
Furthermore, the Government has also advanced the pursuit of additional solar farms with a capacity of 800 kilowatts at Lethem, 400 kilowatts at Mahdia, and 1.5 megawatts at Bartica.
To complement public sector investment, the Government will be granting a one-off tax holiday of two years for corporation tax to importers of items for wind and solar energy investments, and for investors in water treatment, waste disposal, and recycling facilities.
According to the Finance Minister, Government’s energy efficiency programme will involve, also, the replacement of inefficient lights and the installation of 10,427 light-emitting diode (LED) lamps and 3,766 occupancy sensors in government buildings, as well as 360 energy efficient outdoor lights.
Additionally, in 2017, the government will consider utilising the balance of the current Japanese Non- Project Grant Aid facility to the private sector, to procure 5,000 energy efficient street lamps, Minister Jordan noted. This endeavour will result in the replacement of the existing inefficient 250 W street lights with 120 W LED street lamps, resulting in energy savings of about $158M annually.
Moco Moco Hydropower
In the pursuit of best practice and due diligence, the Government will conduct further geotechnical studies for the Moco Moco Hydropower Development Project. The results of the geotechnical studies, which are expected to be completed in 2017, will be used to invite bids for the hydropower re-development contract.
By Ranetta LaFleur