‘With successive budgets, PPP/C Gov’t will work to solve Guyana’s ills’ – Minister Bharrat

No single budget in the world can solve all of a country’s ills in one cycle, but Minister of Natural Resources Vickram Bharrat posits that through the PPP/C’s successive budget, the administration will continue to work assiduously to improve citizens’ standard of living.

The budget themed, ‘Steadfast against all challenges, resolute in building our One Guyana,’ contains a slew of measures to create wealth for all Guyanese, and improve their livelihoods. This follows the $383.1 billion national budget in 2021.

Minister of Natural Resources Vickram Bharrat during Budget 2022 debates on Thursday

In his presentation to the Budget 2022 debates on Thursday afternoon, the natural resources minister confidently outlined, “We know and we accept that Budget 2022, even though we know that it is the best budget presented in the country, will not solve all of our problems, but we will come again in 2023 and 2024, until 2030 and 2040 in order to make the lives of the people in this country better.”

Minister Bharrat chastised the major opposition APNU+AFC, for failing to make realistic recommendations in their budget presentations. Budget 2022 has been deemed historic and transformational, not only for its mammoth allocation of $552.9 billion, but the fact that it is supported with revenues from the Natural Resource Fund (NRF). This is the first budget to be funded with monies from the NRF.

“We have heard that it is a joke. We have heard that it is disrespect. But how could Budget 2022 be disrespectful when this budget is offering $30,000 to each single school child in this country?… How can you actually say that Budget 2022 is killing the non-oil sector when the money from the NRF that flows into the budget is to incentivise the very non-oil sector? The non-oil sector is important in terms of job creation.”

He went on to list agriculture, mining, forestry, tourism, manufacturing, security, education, healthcare, human services and infrastructure as some of the non-oil sectors set to be supported by the oil money.

Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh read the budget which is centered around the development of people, improving infrastructure, capacity and an enabling environment for the overall growth of Guyana. Furthermore, the budget addresses frontally, concerns and aspects of Guyanese welfare in the most detailed and precise way a budget can.

After five days, budget debates come to an end on Friday. On Monday, the Committee of Supply in the National Assembly will move to consider the budget estimates.

Budget 2022 at a glance

  • $73.2 billion budgeted for the health sector, with $16.1 billion allocated to launch a major expansion in public healthcare facilities;
  • $74.4 billion has been budgeted for the education sector for 2022. Uniform grants for school children have been increased from $4,000 to $5,000 per child, while the Because We Care Cash Grant has been increased from $15,000 to $30,000. This comes to a total of each child in the private or public school system taking him $30,000 this year.
  • $49.2 billion has been allocated for roads; $27.5 billion for bridges; $2 billion for air transport; $2.1 billion for the construction of a new ocean-going passenger and cargo vessel which will play the North West District route;
  • $29.8 billion for the energy sector;
  • $300 million for small business support;
  • $1.3 billion to support the rapid development of the ICT sector;
  • $13 billion to upgrade draining and irrigation systems;
  • 743.7 million for the development of fisheries and aquaculture; $977.3 million for livestock development; $96.5 million to equip agro-processing facilities at Sophia, Parika and Mabaruma;

As part of measures, the government has initiated a slew of tax removal measures to further enhance the ease of doing business and cushion the increased cost of living as consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic and the hindrances in the global supply chain.

Some of these measures include:

  • Removal of 10% excise tax and 14% VAT on new motor trucks for transport of goods;
  • Removal of 14% VAT on the importation of new haulers for pulling containers/ similar vehicles;
  • Removal of 10% excise tax on the importation of double cab pickups below 2000 cc;
  • Reducing the excise tax for new double cab pickups between 2000 and 3000 cc from 110% to 75%;
  • Removal of 10% excise tax on the importation of new single cab pickups below 3000 cc.
  • Government will extend the application of the freight cost adjustment for the calculation of import taxes, rolling back freight costs to pre-pandemic levels;
  • Government will be lowering the excise rate tax further on gasoline and diesel from 20% to 10% with immediate effect;
  • Government will introduce a Dialysis Support Programme which it will finance up to $600,000 per annum worth of dialysis treatment for each and every dialysis patient in Guyana;
  • Increased the monthly Public Assistance payment from $12,000 to $14,000;
  • Increased the Old Age Pension further from $25,000 to $28,000;
  • Further increased the ceiling on low-income loans that may be obtained through commercial bank from $12 million to $15 million;
  • Reverted the pre-2015 entitlements of Guyana’s remigrating diaspora in relation to the importation of a vehicle when they return;
  • $100 million for the National Endowment for the Arts.

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