Finance Minister presents $221B Budget to National Assembly

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By Jomo Paul

Parliament[www.inewsguyana.com] – Finance Minister Winston Jordan has presented a $221B Budget to the National Assembly for the 2015 fiscal year under the theme “A Fresh Approach To A Good Life In A Green Economy” – the first fiscal budget for the APNU+AFC administration.

In the budget some $25.5B has been allocated to support further payments to rice farmers and other stakeholders within the sector while, $8.2B has been allocated to support the sugar in Guyana.

Additionally, $21B has been allocated for the strengthening and improvement of the National Security Service, while the Trade Unions will benefit from an $11M subsidy.

Meanwhile, in the area of Infrastructure, Jordan revealed that the government has plans to improve some roadways while introducing some new ones.

The Finance Minister revealed that the budget shows a $13B allocation for roads and bridges which would include the urgent expansion of the East Coast Demerara Highway.

$1.6B for has been set aside for upgrades to the Sheriff Street/Mandela Avenue Highway while $1.2B for completion of East Bank Demerara Highway.

Provisions were also made for the construction of a bypass road from Ogle to Diamond and the construction of a new bridge across the Demerara River and $400M has been allocated to upgrade Sophia roads and $544M to community roads and bridges.

Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan presents the 2015 budget in the National Assembly. [iNews' Photo]
Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan presents the 2015 budget in the National Assembly. [iNews’ Photo]
In the drainage sector some $644M for dredging the Demerara and Essequibo Rivers and to rehabilitate stelling and docks and $1.4B for strengthening of river and sea defense structures.

A whopping $33B has been allocated to the sector and this sum does not include a $233M for the cultural sector which would include a larger subvention of the Theatre Guild.

The Health Sector is scheduled to receive $23.2B with $150 allocated to the upgrade of the maternity ward at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation.

The deficit of the Central Government is projected to be 2.9 percent of GDP, in 2015, compared with 5.5 percent in 2014. It was noted too that Guyana’s economy is expected to grow by some 3.4% in 2015.

According to Jordan, of the $221B Budget, some $97 billion is programmed to be spent on current and capital expenditure during the last four (4) months of 2015, a stimulus if ever the economy needed one.

The overall surplus of the public enterprises is projected to be $982.7 million, or 0.1 percent of GDP, mainly due to a 6.7 percent increase in receipts while the overall deficit of the non-financial public sector is targeted at 2.8 percent of GDP or $19.1 billion.

In 2014, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) government had presented a $220B budget to the National Assembly through Former Finance Minister Dr Ashni SIngh.

Among the highlights of that budget was a transfer of $6B from the national coffers to the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo). The rice industry was also boosted with a $500M subvention to support its efforts of competitiveness and resilience

When the National Assembly, with a then Opposition majority, finished the budget considerations more than $37B was cut from that budget.

This reduction resulted from disapprovals made by the combined parliamentary opposition to funding for several projects and programmes they did not support. However, funding which was lumped with these contentious finances also suffered the same fate.

Among the other agencies for which funding was disapproved is the Office of the President, National Communications Network (NCN), Government Information Agency (GINA), Specialty Hospital, upgrading of Regional and District Hospitals, Amerindian Development Fund, Cheddi Jagan International Airport,   Civil Aviation and Hinterland Airstrips, Rights Commission, Student Loan Fund, Poverty Programme and the Basic Needs Trust Fund among others.

 

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