Budget 2022 will be historic, transformational – Finance Minister

In a matter of two days, Guyana’s largest budget will be presented in the National Assembly by Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh, who on Sunday said it would be “historic” and “transformational.”
“Budget 2022 – if I were to highlight a single sentence to describe budget 2022, it would really be to say that it will be transformational in the sense that many of the big initiatives that we have alluded to in the manifesto, (and) subsequently in the major presidential speeches…

Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh

One could easily get a good sense of the main priorities coming out of the manifesto,” the Finance Minister articulated during an interview with the National Communications Network (NCN).
Sharing insights into the budget, Minister Singh said it intends to step up the pace with respect to rolling out the Government’s agenda for transformation. And, as such, he pointed out that citizens can expect the launch of a slew of major initiatives this year.
“With respect to the implementation of the transformational agenda to modernise the face of our country with respect to things like physical infrastructure, a lot of that is going to be happening in 2022. The theme of transformation and modernisation of Guyana is very deeply and heavily embedded in Budget 2022. It is very transformational in that regard,” the Senior Minister outlined.
One strong element of Budget 2022, Dr Singh stated, will be about creating opportunities for both Guyanese businesses and nationals, as he linked this to the enactment of the Local Content Legislation.
He reminded that Government passed the legislation with the specific objective of ensuring opportunities are created for Guyanese businesses to be able to participate in the provision of goods and services in the oil and gas sector, as well as the creation of business opportunities for Guyanese businesses and nationals.
The third theme of this year’s budget is “Improving people’s lives”, he related.
“The President has repeatedly aired his fortitude for this commitment to improving the lives of all Guyanese -including, very importantly, equipping Guyanese with the skills that are needed to participate in this modern and transformed Guyana.”
Importantly, Budget 2022 will be financed partly by Guyana’s oil revenues. This will be Guyana’s first withdrawal from the Natural Resource Fund (NRF) since the country started collecting oil revenues in early 2020.
During an interview on NCN last week, Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo related that such a move is aimed at seeing Guyana borrow less.
More positive impacts are to be expected from the use of Guyana’s oil revenues, as the Government has said it would spend from the Fund to make peoples’ lives easier.
Currently, US$607 million sits in the fund. While the withdrawal rule restricts withdrawals from the Fund to deposits made in the previous fiscal year, the first schedule of the Natural Resource Fund Act 2021 allows an exception in the first year, giving the Government the latitude to withdraw the total balance in the Fund at once.
The Ministry of Finance has said that such a withdrawal is pertinent to address Guyana’s pressing development needs. Budget 2022 will be read on Wednesday, January 26.
Last year, the National Assembly approved a $383.1B budget under the theme “A Path to Recovery, Economic Dynamism and Resilience.”
Some of the measures that were included in that budget were: an increase in the low-income mortgage loan ceiling from $10 to $12 million; connectivity cost was reduced with the removal of VAT on data for residential and individual use; transportation cost in the hinterland reduced with the removal of duty on all-terrain vehicles and the introduction of a cash grant of $15,000 per child to be given to the parents of children in the nursery, primary, and secondary schools in the public school system.
In addition, Old Age Pension was increased from $20,500 to $25,000, which benefitted over 60,000 persons. Also, Public Assistance was increased from $9,000 to $12,000 per month.