Millions allocated to rebuild schools, Police stations destroyed by fire
…new courts, hospitals to be constructed
The whopping $552.9 billion 2022 budget will see Government injecting billions of dollars to rebuild several public buildings that were destroyed by fire such as schools and Police stations, as well as construct new structures including hospitals and courts across the country.
This was announced by Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh during his marathon presentation of Budget 2022 under theme “Steadfast Against All Challenges, Resolute in Building Our One Guyana”.
According to Minister Singh, this year, the PPP/C Government will continue delivering on its promise of additional schools, hospitals and other public institutions.
The Finance Minister pointed out that the aim is to create an education system that delivers a modern, model, and adaptive learning experience – all a part of President Dr Irfaan Ali’s vision of a world class education for all.
He reminded that Government launched the new Education Strategic Plan for the period 2021 to 2025, presenting the 2030 Vision for the sector, aimed at providing opportunities for equitable access to quality education and lifelong learning for all.
This year some $74.4 billion has been allocation to the education sector to reform the curriculum, expand teacher training, construct new schools, and establish robust systems to take advantage of the finite window of opportunity to educate each generation.
Of that amount, $6.6 billion will be spent on the “construction, rehabilitation, extension, and maintenance” of educational facilities. This includes the commencement of construction of Prospect Secondary, and reconstruction of North Ruimveldt Multilateral and North-West Secondary schools, both of which were destroyed by fire last year.
While the North Ruimveldt school fire in June last year was reportedly caused by faulty electrical wires, it was reported that the October 2021 blaze at the North-West school is suspected to be an act of arson.
Additionally, nursery schools at Hydronie, Haslington and Vryheid’s Lust; and primary schools at Bamia/Amelia’s Ward, Kaikan, Karabairu, Zeelugt and Oronoque are slated for construction works.
Further, a number of schools and educational facilities will also be rehabilitated and maintained in 2022.
Monies have also been budgeted for a multi-storey building to consolidate the operations of the Brickdam Police Station, which was also gutted by fire in October 2021.
Over $400 million, part of the Guyana Police Force’s $4.9 billion for strengthening its assets, will go towards that construction project, which will commence this year.
The Finance Minister went on to underscore the important role of ICT in the State’s security and crime-fighting capabilities. To this end, $2.5 billion has been allocated to expand the Safe City Programme beyond the boundaries of Georgetown.
Dr Singh said this investment will see the entire country being connected to CCTV cameras monitored centrally as well as at Regional Command Centres to be established across the country. Moreover, satellite phones and body cameras will be acquired to boost operational efficiency across all Regional Divisions.
In addition, $99 million has been budgeted for the resuscitation of 175 targeted community policing groups across rural and hinterland communities, and another $120 million for the training of ranks while additional ranks will be added to ensure greater coverage across communities.
With regards to the Guyana Fire Service, $100 million is allocated for the installation of new fire hydrants in housing areas to ensure adequate water supplies in the event of a fire. Another $255 million will be invested to procure a hydraulic platform to bolster the agency’s firefighting capabilities, while water bowsers, ambulances and an all-terrain firefighting vehicle will also be procured this year.
Further, $508 million is allocated to continue works on relocating the new Fire Service Headquarters to D’Urban Park, a fire station at Ogle, as well as the construction of a fire station at Wales and facilities at New Amsterdam. Further, a sum of $49.1 million is also allocated towards the repairs and maintenance of fire stations countrywide.
At the Guyana Prison Service, some $2.3 billion is budgeted towards enhancing prison infrastructure. This includes continuing works at the Lusignan Prison to house both male and female prisoners including a vocational school, an infirmary annex, prison headquarters and command centre. Simultaneously, works are ongoing at Mazaruni Prison on a second prison block. Another $88.9 million will be injected into the training of 1400 inmates in areas such as anger management, literacy and numeracy, tailoring, among others.
Meanwhile, Budget 2022 also includes funds for the construction of new public buildings, such as the public health sector in which $16.1 billion has set aside to launch a major expansion. This includes $12.4 billion allocated for the design and construction of a state-of-the-art paediatric and maternal hospital, upgrading of the West Demerara and Bartica regional hospitals, and the construction of six modern regional hospitals at Anna Regina, Tuschen, Diamond, Enmore, Bath and No 75 Village, Corentyne.
According to the Finance Minister, these regional hospitals are expected to catapult healthcare delivery beyond current levels provided by existing regional facilities as well as to reduce the undue cost and burden of referrals to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC).
A further $1 billion has been allocated for the upgrading of health centres across all regions, to address critical interventions needed to improve the patient experience. Also this year, $2 billion has been budgeted for medical and non-medical equipment.
Of that amount, some $359.3 million is earmarked for the GPHC, which will allow for the increased use of laparoscopic surgical techniques – serving to improve surgical outcomes and reduce recovery time – and for the introduction of vascular surgery, for the first time.
Moreover, of the $4.7 billion allocated to build on the important work and advancement of the justice sector in Guyana this year, $1.3 billion will be expended to support the Judiciary to improve access to justice especially in previously underserved areas.
To this end, Port Kaituma, Mabaruma and Vigilance Magistrate’s Court will be completed in 2022, while two additional Magistrate’s Courts and living quarters along the East Bank of Demerara at Timehri and Friendship, will be advanced.
According to the Finance Minister, these investments will increase the number of courts around the country to 46 in 2022, from 41 in 2019. He added that it will also result in more timely delivery and improved access to the justice system, and reduced costs to citizens.
Further, $250 million has been allocated to improve the criminal justice system this year. The University of Guyana’s Prosecutorial Programme will commence this year, catering for 25 students initially for a duration of thirteen weeks which will increase the number of trained prosecutors. (G8)