Budget 2023 “is for all Guyanese” – private sector, Govt
…lays the foundation for 2030 and beyond
The National Budget 2023 has been praised as one for all Guyanese, setting the foundation for vision 2030 and beyond.
It is regarded as the largest fiscal plan ever presented in the country’s history at 781.9 billion, with a significantly higher increase than the $552.9 billion budget that was produced in 2022 by 41 per cent.
This is the People’s Progressive Party/Civic’s (PPP/C) fourth National Budget and covers fiscal plans for 2023, presented by Senior Minister within the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh. Under the theme “Improving Lives for Today, Building Prosperity for Tomorrow”, a series of measures and allocations were announced in realising the transformation of Guyana.
Guyana Times caught up with Public Works Minister Juan Edghill, who regarded the financial framework as people-oriented and strategic, fulfilling promises made to Guyanese when the PPP/C walked the campaign trail in 2020.
“It sets the tone for Guyana’s development, modernisation and transformation, taking into account the immediate things that needs to be done, but also laying the foundation for the future, 2030 and beyond. This is an excellent document, a framework that is outlined that will lead us towards fulfilling the commitments that we made and the mandate which we received from the people when they elected us in March 2, 2020,” Edghill recognised.
No new taxes
Expressing her satisfaction with the allocation of resources was Minister within the Housing and Water Ministry, Susan Rodrigues, who emphasised that despite being the largest budget ever presented, no new taxes were imposed to burden Guyanese.
“I think Guyanese across all walks of life can be very relieved, very happy with this budget. This budget is in keeping in line with our manifesto commitments, and therefore Guyanese do not have to be worried or surprised by any new taxes. It is the largest budget ever is fully financed with no new taxes and increases in taxes. As a matter of fact, we saw significant reduction in taxes in several areas,” she highlighted.
In her remit, the housing sector’s budgetary allocation increased by over 40 per cent from 2022, which according to her, means more transformation to the lives of ordinary citizens and fulfilling dreams.
“We have a lot of work that we will continue to do in the housing sector and I know a lot of Guyanese will be very happy this year as they see our infrastructure programme continue to roll out and as we make more households available for people, as we do upgrading works within our existing housing schemes, and as we continue to provide safe water for our people…This budget clearly sets us on the path to achieving all of our manifesto commitments and all of our targets that we have set ourselves for five years in Government,” the Minister cited.
Meanwhile, President of the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA), Rafeek Khan expressed that this monumental budget increase was “needed”, as it paves the way for a bright future in manufacturing for Guyana. The 17 per cent allocation for infrastructural works is “commendable”, he noted, since it addresses some of the hindrances facing the sector as it relates to energy and logistics.
“This is the only way we’re going to become a manufacturing sector that is going to be vibrant, in order for us to grow industries, develop new industries. We have got to see the increase in the national budget to help in major areas, especially infrastructure and energy. These two areas have been hindering the growth of manufacturing overall for competitiveness. You bring down the infrastructure costs, logistics, energy costs and you’re going to see manufacturing grow,” Khan expressed.
He added, “At least six per cent of the national budget is energy, which speaks to what is expected to happen in 2023. This is where I am seeing the difference that will be made for manufacturers.”
In the energy sector, the Gas-to-Shore Project has received a whopping $43.3 billion from Budget 2023.
He was optimistic that manufacturing will grow even more within the coming year with these changes and as the sector rebounds from COVID.
“Every single sector grew by almost double digits. The manufacturing sector grew by four per cent and while this may seem a little discouraging, coming out of COVID and trying to rebound and trying to resuscitate our manufacturing sector, I foresee within the next year, you’re going to see projections way above 10 per cent.”
Low energy costs for producers
Additionally, the Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) Private Sector Chairman, Halim Khan praised the gas-to-energy project, as it would mean lowered energy costs for producers.
“This project is the single largest investment made in Guyana’s electricity sector and promises to slash local energy costs in half once the project is on-stream. Overall, the project is pegged at more than US$1 billion…Cheaper power will be an important pillar of development in Guyana as is the transformation of communities and roadways with $136.1 billion being allocated in the 2023 budget to enhance roads and bridge networks across the country,” Khan penned.
Meanwhile, bringing significant relief to the region is the construction of the New Demerara River Bridge – the first high span, four-lane permanent hybrid concrete and cable-stayed structure. With an injection of a further $5.2 billion in this project, the private sector official labelled this investment as “commendable”. (G12)