Budget 2022: historic and transformational
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Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh
Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh

— says Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance

SENIOR Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh, has expressed confidence in this year’s national fiscal plan, labelling it “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. 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) on Sunday.

Sharing insight into the budget, Minister Singh said it intends to step up the pace with respect to rolling out the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) 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 [sic] 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 highlighted, will be about creating opportunities for both Guyanese businesses and citizens, as he linked this to enactment of the local content legislation. He reminded the public that government passed the legislation with the specific objective of ensuring that 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 citizens.

A 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 government has said it will spend from the fund to make people’s 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 presented on Wednesday, January 26.

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