More roads, keeping electricity cost low among $44.44B in funds requested
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Roundabout at the Mandela Avenue to Eccles four-lane highway (DPI photo)
Roundabout at the Mandela Avenue to Eccles four-lane highway (DPI photo)

–Linden, Lethem, Kwakwani, Port Kaituma, Mabaruma, Matthew’s Ridge, Mahdia to benefit

ANOTHER $6.6 billion to provide additional resources for electricity arrears to the Guyana Power & Light (GPL), $1 billion for operational expenses at the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) and $18 billion for the upgrading of roads and bridges are among the expenditures in a $44.44 billion supplementary budget request made by government.

Financial Paper 3 of 2022 was laid before the National Assembly on Wednesday by Senior Minister with responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), Liliendaal.

Financial Paper 2 of 2022, a schedule of contingency fund advances on current and capital expenditures totalling $2.904 billion for the period 15 August to 29 November, was also tabled.

Section 220 of the Constitution and Section 41 of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act (FMAA) gives the minister of finance the “sole authority” to release monies from the Contingency Fund which should not be larger than two per cent of the annual budget from the last fiscal year.

Improving lives of Guyanese
Speaking with the Guyana Chronicle on the sidelines at the ACCC, Dr Singh explained that the monies requested are part of the ongoing aggressive push to upgrade the country’s infrastructure.

“These supplementary provisions represent an important part of our government’s strong commitment to continue to improve the lives of all Guyanese people, through our various sectoral interventions whether it be roads, other infrastructure, electricity, or any other sector development,” Dr Singh expressed.

The $6.6 billion for GPL comes after the government has already requested an additional $4 billion earlier this year. Dr Singh explained that provisions for GPL represent funding from the government to absorb the impact of increased fuel prices on GPL’s operations.

“This has presented a tremendous cash-flow challenge and we are seeking to cushion the impact on private consumers by not passing on the increased fuel prices through increased electricity tariff[s].

“We’ve given that commitment to the people of Guyana. So, GPL has come under severe liquidity pressure, so we’re providing an additional allocation to GPL,” Dr Singh explained.

Prime Minister, Brigadier (ret’d) Mark Phillips (blue mask), inspects equipment at GPL’s Garden of Eden Power Station in 2020 (DPI photo)

In addition to the $6.6 billion for GPL, a total of $1.393 billion in current expenditure and $85.8 million in capital expenditure is being requested by the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) for the Power Utility Upgrade Programme (PUUP) and additional resources to support several electricity companies across the country.

Provisions for electricity include $927.527 million for Linden, Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Upper Berbice); $110.707 million for Lethem, Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo); $106.016 million for Mabaruma, Region One (Barima-Waini); $103.238 million for Kwakwani, Region 10; $76.809 million for Port Kaituma, Region One; $49.020 million for Mahdia, Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni); and $20 million for Matthew’s Ridge, Region One.

“In none of those communities have the electricity companies passed on increased fuel prices to their customer base, so this support is also needed to ensure that citizens can continue to receive the benefit of electricity without having to bear the additional cost as a result of escalating fuel prices worldwide,” Dr Singh noted.

Provision to the PUUP includes additional inflows under the Inter-American Development Bank’s loan operation to facilitate project closure.

The largest component of the provision was allocated to the Ministry of Public Works (MoPW), which is requesting $630.4 million in current expenditure and $28.45 billion in capital expenditure.

Drainage, roads
Aside from the $18 billion for the roads and drains in communities, there is $2 billion to advance works to support road linkages, $7 billion for the reconstruction of roads from Sheriff Street to the railway embankment, and $938.22 million to facilitate civil works on the Linden to Mabura Road project.

“The largest allocation is in relation to infrastructure, in particular roads. There’s a lot of demand for improved roads, in particular community roads.

“In many communities after five years of complete neglect, roads have been left in a severely dilapidated state, communities are understandably and justifiably concerned about the need for their road infrastructure to be upgraded,” Dr Singh noted.

“We are rolling out a very aggressive agenda to improve roads, and build out new roads to improve connectivity across communities. We are pushing it aggressively, we are rolling out our housing programme and we’re building up the public infrastructure.”

Other provisions
Due to the expanded work programme of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and other security agencies, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) is requesting $2.338 billion in current expenditure and $427.51 million in capital expenditure.

The ministry’s allocation also includes $226 million for drugs, medical supplies and other resources to cater for Guyana’s increased prison population.

For the provision of additional resources to offset expenses for the expanded work programme of the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest), the Office of the President is requesting $11.755 in current expenditure.

Due to the growing population at the Night Shelter, Hugo Chavez Shelter, and children’s homes, the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security is requesting an additional $53 million to meet dietary needs, and to provide additional resources for increase in security charges.

To complete water supply interventions in the hinterland areas, and the procure a new drilling rig, the Ministry of Housing and Water is looking for another $275.98 million.

In terms of provisions for the regions, Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice) required $53 million to cater for increased security charges; Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) and Region Nine required $99.8 million and $53 million, respectively, to cater for additional resources to meet the needs of the student dorms due to an increase in enrolment in both regions.

Region One (Barima-Waini) requested $130.61 million, and Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) sought $16 million.

“These relate to a number of absolute critical interventions in many areas that affect the lives of Guyanese people.

“These are very important interventions and we certainly hope we will get support from the opposition [A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change] when we consider and vote on these supplementary provisions,” Dr. Singh noted.

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