Government has secured a total of $44.7 billion in funding from the National Assembly in a supplementary budget that will enable continued expenditure for this 2022 fiscal year in a number of developmental areas.
The National Assembly on Monday approved the Financial Paper No 1 of 2022. Of the $44,794,011,175 billion, $12.2 billion are current estimates and the remaining $32.5 billion are capital estimates.
For the Agriculture Ministry, a total of $1.908 billion was approved for support to the Black Belly Sheep Project and $300 million to support fisherfolks. There also includes operational expenses for other agencies such as the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) – $1.2 billion, the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA) – $44.1 million and the Mahaica Mahaicony-Abary Agricultural Development Authority (MMA-ADA) – $218.9 million.
Meanwhile, $4.439 billion will go to the Public Works Ministry for rehabilitative works on 28 pontoons of the Demerara Harbour Bridge (DHB), for the acquisition of spares and the completion of rehabilitation of ferry vessels, and for upgrading of roads and drains in several communities for which some $3 billion was granted.
Public Works Minister Juan Edghill told the Assembly, “Apart from the hundreds of roads that we’ve already done since coming into office, the backlog is great. What we’re trying to do here now is to do what should have been done in those communities during the period 2015 to 2020. Selective communities had works done during that period. In this dispensation, all communities are benefitting…The Government of Guyana wants to fix every road in every community. My mandate is to ensure that it happens.”
To facilitate the completion of the critical sea and river defence works as well as new works to address areas of erosion along the Mahaicony shoreline, an additional $550 million was approved. Some $525 million was also sought to facilitate the advancement of preliminary works to support the East Coast-East Bank Road Linkage project.
In addition, supplementary funds to the tune of $21 billion for the Housing and Water Ministry was requested and of that amount, $15.9 billion is to facilitate infrastructural works in new and existing housing areas, as well as to promote the housing programme.
The remaining sum is for works in the water supply sector including the completion of water supply interventions in hinterland areas, and resources to increase treated water coverage through the construction and upgrading of water treatment plants as well as improving and expanding water supply systems in underserved and unserved areas.
Other funds listed in the Financial Paper include $50 million for the Office of the Prime Minister; $40.5 million for the Finance Ministry as well as another $6 billion current estimates which include $4 billion to pay electricity arrears to Guyana Power and Light Incorporated (GPL).
Meanwhile, $700 million is being sought for the Human Services and Social Security Ministry to facilitate public assistance to persons living with disabilities.
Public Service Minister, Dr Vindhya Persaud outlined, “That’s actual money going into the hands of persons living with disabilities to cater for the kinds of needs that they will require; whatever they need to make their lives better and to improve their quality of life.”
The Education Ministry is requesting $307 million for the construction of a primary school in Wakenaam and to purchase school furniture for the reopening of school.
Another $216 million was requested for the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport to procure tools and machinery for training programmes, maintenance of the State’s swimming pools and upgrading of community grounds.
Under the Health Ministry, $332.6 million was sought for the Government’s collaboration with the US-based Mount Sinai International. Earlier this month, Guyana signed an agreement with Mount Sinai and Fess Corp to transform the country’s healthcare system. The collaboration will see the establishment of Centres of Excellence for heart and cancer care as well as discounts for Guyanese patients at the Mount Sinai facility.
For the Home Affairs Ministry, $22.4 million in capital and another $838 million in current estimates are being requested. Another $100 million is being sought to cover legal fees under the Legal Affairs Ministry.
Supplementary funds to the tune of $36.8 million were also earmarked in the Financial Paper for Regions One (Barima-Waini), Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) and Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) to expand their respective work programmes.
This supplementary funding follows the massive $552.9 billion Budget that was laid and passed in the National Assembly for 2022.
The A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) was a no-show at Monday’s sitting – a move which was hinted at since last week by Opposition Leader, Aubrey Norton.
When the parliamentary sitting commenced at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, only the Government side was present as seats from the Opposition remained empty.
This comes on the heels of remarks from the Opposition Leader where he signalled their intention at such actions at a rally last week. The boycott comes in wake of the National Assembly’s decision to suspend eight APNU/AFC Members of Parliament, connected with the infamous stealing of the mace.
Last month, the National Assembly adopted a report from the Parliamentary Committee of Privileges, which recommended the suspension of Opposition Chief Whip Christopher Jones, Ganesh Mahipaul, Sherod Duncan, Natasha Singh-Lewis, Annette Ferguson, Vinceroy Jordan, Tabitha Sarabo-Halley, and Maureen Philadelphia over their conduct in the House on December 29, 2021.
Chief Whip Jones, Mahipaul, Duncan and Singh-Lewis have been suspended for four consecutive sittings each over their attempts to disrupt the passage of the Natural Resource Fund (NRF) Bill and ignoring the authority of the Speaker on December 29, 2021.
MPs Ferguson and Jordan are suspended for six consecutive sittings over severe and egregious violations by removing the Parliamentary Mace from its rightful position, not only damaging the object, but also injuring and assaulting a staff of the Parliament Office.
Meanwhile, Sarabo-Halley, who entered the Communication Control Room of the Arthur Chung Conference Centre and destroyed several pieces of audio-visual equipment, is suspended for six sittings.
Additionally, Philadelphia is facing a suspension for six consecutive sittings for verbally assaulting a Parliament staff. (G12)