Today is Budget Day 2021, and already there is great anticipation by Guyanese about the measures that will cushion and better the lives of every citizen.
Already a burden has been taken off the shoulders of all citizens when Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo announced that there will be no increase in taxes, but, rather, Budget 2021 will be pro-poor and pro-entrepreneur. The issue of increased taxes, which was forced by the former APNU/AFC Government during the period 2015-2020, had led to Guyanese complaining bitterly about the burden of such imposition. Already, the PPP/C Government, in its emergency budget, has removed the heavy taxation measures inherited from the former Government. It is commendable that despite numerous constraints, the new Government was able to pass a $330 billion budget in September, 2020. That budget addressed the needs of the ordinary citizen, battered by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the business community that suffered a double whammy, since they also had to deal with the previous anti-business ANPU/AFC regime.
Again, there is expectation and confidence that the Budget that will be presented today by Minister with responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh, will continue to deliver commitments and undertakings that the PPP/C had outlined in its manifesto.
As a matter of fact, Dr Singh himself already assured that manifesto is the Government’s contract with the people of Guyana.
Cementing the fact that today’s Budget will significantly impact the lives of Guyanese, President Dr Irfaan Ali, in his address to the 12th Parliament on Thursday, gave some insights on what good initiatives Guyanese can expect today. These include the expansion of the country’s road system, including a bypass road with connections to Mocha, Eccles and the Demerara Harbour Bridge. The transformative infrastructural projects: a deep water harbour at the Berbice estuary; support to shore-based facilities; support to private investment that will see new branded hotels; support to agriculture that will see mega-investments in large scale agriculture; opening up of new lands through the construction of farm-to- market access roads; commencement of the Linden-to-Lethem road; four-Lane highway from Georgetown to Timehri; commencement of the Parika-to-Goshen Road Link to Bartica; upgrade and development of new all-terrain road links from Timehri to Bartica; upgrade of regional airports; building of new ferries; the construction of a four-lane link between Mandela and Diamond, with interconnection to the existing highway to reduce travel time; completion of the new Demerara River Bridge; construction of a new superhighway from Schoonard to Parika. The Corentyne River Bridge and its benefits for the Private Sector in enlarging markets, expanding the scale of business and increasing employment were also highlighted by the Head of State.
As this newspaper had positioned previously, from what we have seen so far, the economic policy of this PPP/C Government has been very inclusive and well-thought- out. There is no doubt that the Government inherited numerous economic burdens from the previous Government, but has steadily moved forward.
We are confident that, with this Budget, the economy would demonstrate a major turnaround, and this positive effect will trickle down to ordinary citizens. This newspaper therefore supports President Ali’s statement at the conclusion of his address to the 12th Parliament that “there is no end to the manifesto tasks that lie ahead, for there is no end to the efforts we must make for the homeland. We all want Guyana to be for each of us and all of us – and for the generations that will follow. To build that home, it would not be right for us to forget or neglect our obligations beyond our shores – in the Caribbean community, in the Americas, in the world of small states, and in global affairs. For we are not an island unto ourselves.”