Budget 2022: Private Sector interested in infrastructure, reduced electricity costs
As Government continues to prepare Budget 2022 to bring it to the National Assembly, the Private Sector is on the lookout for areas of interest to benefit the business community.
Chairman of the Private Sector Commission (PSC), Paul Cheong told media operatives that the needs of the business sector at this time are still being ventilated. However, crucial is allocation for further infrastructural enhancement and efforts to reduce electricity costs for producers.
“We are still fine-tuning that right now. We need to continue with the infrastructure development. We have an infrastructure deficit and to make things better, we need farm to market roads. I know the Government has a programme to work on the electricity. We’re hoping that it would kick off even more this year so that the business sector would benefit from reduced costs,” Cheong discussed.
With the persistence of COVID for some two years, he added that tax relief would cushion the rising freight costs currently incurred.
“Taxes, they need to look and examine. I know it’s a balancing act but lots of prices keep rising because of the COVID situation. Freight rates and you see prices keep rising so we look forward to some relief in those areas.”
Otherwise, Cheong pointed out that the pandemic has proven to be a major blow to the Private Sector, where enterprises are also suffering with human resource challenges due to infections.
“This last spike, it has affected the Private Sector because when people get COVID, they can’t come out to work. When people don’t work, production falls, service quality falls, which is not good for the Private Sector. What we are preaching is that people should get vaccinated and those who are vaccinated should get their booster shot…COVID is a serious thing. We have seen that and we don’t need to say it anymore. Everybody needs to take it seriously. This is everybody’s business because once you drop your guard and get complacent, we see what happens.”
In preparation for budget, it is customary for Government to engage with the Private Sector on main issues of interests for these stakeholders. Since last year, the Finance Ministry had commenced engaging officials, moving full steam ahead for this fiscal year.
The much-anticipated Budget 2021 had attracted praise from the business community including the Private Sector Commission (PSC), Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA), American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) Guyana, with the policies contained in the $383.1 billion plan lauded for its economically and Private Sector friendly measures.
The PPP/C Government’s budget was deemed healthy to facilitate broad-based and inclusive growth of the economy in terms of job creation, encouraging private investments and more entrepreneurial activities.
Among that budget, highlights the PSC identified were the $6 billion allocation for housing, $53.5 billion for health and $15.3 billion for public security. The budget also included $25.6 billion for public infrastructure and removed Value Added Tax and duty on data and ATVs for use in the hinterland.
The PSC had said that it would thereby fuel the construction boom, by including policies like the resuscitation of the housing drive and targeting 10,000 house lots. Added to this was the massive infrastructure development that includes hotels, new roads and bridges, shore-based facilities and public and private infrastructure.
Reverting basic food items to the pre-2015 zero-rated status and the reduction of water tariffs to five per cent; reducing the cost of construction and homeownership to achieve the 10,000 house lots target, was seen as a way of lowering the cost of living particularly for the working class.
It also featured no increased taxes – which the population had complained bitterly about under the former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government. (G12)