Home Letters Impressive budget speech by Prime Minister Mark Phillips
With the exception of a few, most of the themes and issues addressed by the Members of Parliament (MPs) from both sides of the isle during the Budget Debate were to some extent not too impressive mainly because most of the MPs focused on political issues and did not deal directly with matters in the budget. Many in the public were aghast at the MPs whom they elected to represent them. It must be told that the Minister of Education Ms Priya Manickchand made a superb budget presentation in which she outlined policies to expand education across the country to benefit all the children. Not only did Ms Manickchand highlight the progress made by her Ministry but she also explained the Ministry’s future educational plans which include the hiring of more qualified science teachers, reduce the amount of school drop-outs, construction of modern schools, and a 21st century curriculum that would make Guyana the leader of the Caribbean in all facets of education. Likewise, both the Ministers of Housing Mr Collin Croal and Ms Susan Rodrigues were on top of their game. In their budget presentations, they wasted no time in telling the nation that in only two and a half years in office, the PPP/C Government has reduced the length of time in half one has to wait to acquire a house lot, and has issued three times more house lots to residents than what the previous Administration distributed in five years. Their delivery was smooth and to the point.
However, perhaps the most outstanding budget presentation was made by Prime Minister Brigadier Mark Phillips, who did not mince words. First, he praised the Minister of Finance, Dr Ashni Singh and his team for presenting a budget that will touch the lives of every Guyanese across the country and transition Guyana from an underdeveloped nation to a developing country. The Prime Minister characterised the budget as a working-class budget that will benefit all the people and not only the wealthy or the private sector as some in the Opposition have constantly stated. According to the Prime Minister, the budget would inspire confidence in the masses and embolden them to use their ability and skills to accomplish anything worthy for them. He stated that the Administration has shown its wherewithal in explaining its economic strategies and fiscal policies to the Guyanese people and mobilising them around its economic development programmes. Brigadier Phillips asserted that the $781.9 billion budget which is the largest in the history of the country will lead to a brighter future for all Guyanese, especially our children and grandchildren as long as the PPP/C Government led by President Dr Ali remains in power.
Unlike others, Prime Minister Phillips felt that it was a waste of precious time to mount an attack or spend too much time analysing and criticising the views of the Opposition MPs because in his words, their agenda is not to develop and advance the country but to tear it apart. He pointed out that their only ability is to criticise the budget and hence the policies of the Government for the sake of criticising. Instead, he focused on the massive accomplishments of the Government in several areas including the improvement of its energy and communication infrastructure. He contended that Guyana will pursue an aggressive economic and development policy at home that would improve the lives of the poor and downtrodden, modernise its communication networks to the highest standard. In reference to the energy sector, the Prime Minister asserted that the Government is committed to transform the energy sector from its primary energy source of fossil fuel to a mixture of energy comprised of hydropower, natural gas, solar and wind. He highlighted the Government’s commitment to invest in renewable and sustainable energy systems and how to use them in a way that would not destroy or disrupt the ecosystems.
Prime Minister Brigadier Mark Phillips provided a detailed overview of all aspects of communication and the energy system as well as the gas-to-shore project. He was adamant that the nation will prosper with an affordable and reliable energy system and communication network that would extend from the coastal belt to the hinterland communities. He was very persuasive in his presentation and in concluding, the Brigadier intoned that behind all of the speeches made in Parliament by members of the Government about the budget are the decisions that reflect the PPP/C Government’s commitments and making good on its promises to the people.
Dr Asquith Rose