Budget Debate 20133395 03 Apr, 2013
Ms. Manickchand: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker. I wish today to join with my colleagues in this House and indeed the people of Guyana who have expressed deep appreciation to the Hon. Minister of Finance Dr. Ashni Kumar Singh and his very able staff led by our very own Ms. Sonia Roopnauth the Director of Budget, a Guyanese woman - a matter of which all of Guyana can be proud - and a person of whom we can all be proud too. They have given us a Budget this year that will continue the work of other Budgets that came before this Budget was crafted to meet the needs of large sections of all our various populations. For that, I say warm congratulations and offer our deepest gratitude.
This particular Budget cannot be read in isolation. It has to be read with Budgets that came before. It has to be read in conjunction with our dreams for Guyana, our vision for Guyana; it has to be read in conjunction with the needs of our country and her people. So this Budget that was put forward here by the Hon. Minister of Finance does take us that step further to realising our dreams for this dear land of ours. Particularly, the 2013 Budget does something that I think has startled us all––something we can all marvel about. Although this massive Budget is the biggest Budget that is a matter of fact, so I do not think we can be accused of boasting that it is the biggest Budget. It is as a matter of fact the largest Budget this country has ever seen.
This Budget has money in it. For the first time in the history of this country more money will go to more people to help them in their personal development and to help them enjoy the development of our country as a whole. This Budget has something for everybody. That something it has for everybody is going to allow people to enjoy the benefits today, tomorrow, next week, next year and the next ten years so that their grandchildren will enjoy the benefits that will flow from the 2013 Budget. This is a Budget that caters for our young, our old, our women, our middle aged, our health needs, our education needs, our human services needs, and our agriculture needs. This is the Budget that feeds into us realising what the Hon. Member Irfaan Ali called yesterday the Guyana dream. What is it we want to see for Guyana? What is it we hope to spend our time here both in the National Assembly and on earth doing for this dear land of ours, but more than that doing for ourselves, our children, our sisters’ children, cousins’ children, children whom we have sworn to look after and protect? What is it we see in this Guyana we speak of? This is a place where we want to see all our children loved, protected and looked after by their parents, their teachers, their guardians and the people who are supposed to look after them. This is a place where we envision that men and women will be equal to each other and the benefits that flow will be enjoyed by us all. This is the Guyana we are trying to build where our old people could enjoy their golden years with pride and dignity, enjoying what they have worked for. This is the Guyana where our single women will be single but will never feel alone because we are there with them. This is the Guyana we are trying to craft, to build, where one does not have to pay for health care although one can if one so desires. This is the Guyana we want to build to make sure all our children all across this land, irrespective of where they live or what they look like could enjoy quality education from nursery to tertiary. This is the Guyana we are trying to build. This is the Guyana that will require not us in Government alone but we will all have to work together to build. This is the Guyana that this 2013 Budget helps us to advance.
Minister Singh is asking us to overcome our challenges together and to accelerate our gains for Guyana. For those who have gotten up to say we do not recognise there are things to be done, we are here with a Budget which very name tells you we recognise that in the building of our dreamland, this building of the Guyana we so say we love we have challenges and we will always have some of these challenges. We will always be below sea level. I do not think that is going to change irrespective of which party assumes office. We will always have challenges of meeting the kinds of needs we have to meet if we are to become and sustain the status of a first world country. First world countries will tell you they have challenges. The United States of America in some places like Alabama they do not have running water. However, in recognising these challenges and in trying to overcome them together it requires us to do more than wax lyrical in this House. We would have to put our shoulders to the wheel. It is a lot harder to recognise a challenge and to work towards overcoming that challenge and accelerating a gain although that would be best for this country and her people; it is a lot harder to do that than to sit in the proverbial armchair and say what is wrong with all that is around us. I would be the first to tell you that if you want to find something wrong with a system come to the sector over which I have responsibility. When you are dealing with 10,000 teachers and 300,000 students in 1,000 schools you are bound to find something every single hour of every single day that is wrong in that structure. That is the way it is; that is what we are dealing with. So we could tell you almost all of what you can tell us and we do not reject or resent any kind of constructive criticism. What we say is come and work with us to overcome these challenges and accelerate the gains that we have made. Do not come postulating about sharpening your different instruments. That is not helpful to our nation; it is not helpful to the people of Guyana; it is not helpful to the people who look up to us here to lead and to give them what they are deserving of. We can only help our people if we constructively put our minds together. I would be the first to say if we were to combine our efforts, Government and Opposition, we could get more for the people than any one side by itself. So we call on the Opposition today in going forward, there is time and space to change this destructive behaviour that has gone hither forth. There is space right now as we go forward for us to hold hands and take Guyana forward; for us to hold hands and take all of Guyana’s people forward. It is up to us in this House to strengthen our resolve or even to establish a resolve, because sometimes I worry about whether we have that resolve, to do what we have to do to make our country a better place.
This 2013 Budget combines with other Budgets and continues a path of development that has started under this PPP/Civic Government. Over the last five years the allocation to the Ministry of Education has been on average fifteen percent of the national Budget. This is as compared to five percent in 1992 of a much smaller Budget. In 2013, the social sector spending has risen by over 16% of the 2012 spending to amount to more than $70 billion on the people of Guyana. I am worried and concerned when I hear things like, “there is nothing in this Budget for anyone”. A Budget deals with money. When we are going to spend more than $ 70 billion on the people of this country, that is something in this Budget. That is $70 billion plus for the people of Guyana. That is our saying to the people of Guyana in these particular sectors we love you and here is how we are going to manifest that love. So when we say that we are going to…I hear a chuckle from Mr. Williams; Mr. Williams is a very funny man. This is something we have seen continuing over the years from the time this Government took office. It is very different, so that is why some of the more aged Members of this House who might be stuck in a different era might not be able to appreciate what we are trying to do here. This Budget continues the PPP/C’s trend of investing in the people of Guyana, the men, the women and the children of Guyana.
There was a time in our country when the foreign services expenditure was higher than education, health and housing sectors put together. It does not happen that way now. This year we are spending more than $70 billion on education, health, housing and water, and that has risen by16 percent over the expenditure in 2012. So when people stand up to say this Budget is not pro-poor and that the Budget has nothing for anyone, I am going to have to ask them to really consider the expenditure proposed. Let us take the education sector.
Here is a place, while much remains to be done - we in education will be the first to tell you that - there has been so much done that it would behoove anyone, any sensible person with a national interest, to make congratulatory remarks. Of course, along with those could be suggestions as to how we could do better. In fact, you will see from the Education as we have seen, and I intend for this to continue, we will establish policies and implement them and when those do not work we would change them, revise them or quash them altogether. We will continue working to make sure we get it right for our children in the education system.
From nursery, or what is referred to as early childhood education, Guyana leads in the Caribbean. And this is something we could celebrate. More than 85% of our children of the relevant age cohort are accessing nursery schools in Guyana, and the population is even higher in the coastal regions. This we believe is the highest in the English speaking Caribbean, our dear Guyana. In year two the nursery programme we are introducing children to pre-literacy skills so they are going into primary schools better prepared for the learning they are going to get there and for the reading that they are going to be exposed to. The proportion of trained teachers has risen in the last four years from 56% to 67%. And most of our nursery classrooms in our nursery schools are child friendly.
The billions that will be expended on education this year to train our teachers, to make more of our classrooms child friendly and to allow us to consider more deeply making nursery education compulsory, those billions that will be expended are billions that will be expended on our Guyanese children, the most vulnerable of those our youngest children. These are billions that will be expended on training our teachers. There is something in the budget for everyone.
We move on to primary education. In our primary education we have attained, by the United Nations (UN’s) standard, access universal primary education. What that means is that in Guyana and this is not so in many parts of the world, but in Guyana we have primary schools that children can access all across this land, whether they are in Region Nos. 1, 9, 6 or 4. All across this land, children can access primary schools. We have attained that Millennium Development Goal of access to primary education. We are moving even as we address other issues, to attain universal secondary education. If fact, it was President Ramotar who, many times when he was merely a candidate, promised across this nation that in his first term we will achieve universal secondary education. Minister Robert Persaud spoke of us fulfilling our promises to the people, this is one of the promises in the PPP/Civic Manifesto of 2011 and this is promise that we are well on our way to fulfilling.
We have achieved universal secondary education in Region Nos. 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9 and 10 and Georgetown. With the allocations made in this years’ budget we are going to be able to achieve universal secondary education in Region Nos.5 and 6. In Region No.5, to do that we had proposed an extension to the Rosignol Secondary School, Novar Secondary School, Fort Wellington and Mahaicony Secondary Schools and the construction of a new secondary school at Woodley Park and a boat to take children from the deep Mahaicony areas to the Mahaicony Secondary School and other schools on the Coastland.
We have received in a combination of allocations made last year and what is proposed this year, all that we have asked for. We say thank you to Minister Ashni Singh. We are on our way with the provisions made in this year’s budget of achieving universal secondary education, in yet another Region of our country, Region No.5.
In Region No.6, we needed an extension at the Tutorial Academy Secondary School and at Tagore Memorial Secondary School in the Lower Corentyne and two mini buses for transportation. This year we have in the budget - the provisions made in this budget - which I am imploring you all in this House to vote for. An implication of not voting for this is that you are saying to the children of Region No.5 and Region No.6, “You are not entitled; you are not deserving of a secondary education. So stay in your house, stay in the river, stay in Mahaicony, you cannot come to school.” That is really what we are saying to them if we do not support this proposal.
We are going to be allowed from the budgetary allocations to get extension works at Tutorial Academy Secondary School and the Lower Corentyne and Berbice High School. One bus is going to be procured to transport 120 children from Villages’ Nos. 59, 65, 51, 48, 43 and 26 Eversham and Wellington Park, to Central Corentyne High School. For the persons who come here and say that we love Berbice and we want to help Berbice, we would expect you to help them by supporting these allocations made in this years’ budget.
We had heard earlier someone saying that this budget makes no dent. It is a big budget, but it makes no dent on the people’s lives. Nothing happens overnight and like in your own home, when you first build a home and then add different things; a wall here, new carpeting there, different paints here; that is how a country will have to work. That is how a developing country works. Whereas, we were far away from universal secondary education or access to secondary education in 1992, over the years we have gotten to a place where six of our ten Regions have it. Where we in the PPP/Civic are promising the other four Regions that they too will get access to secondary education universally, before the end of these five years. This budget helps us to bring two more Regions up to scratch with providing a secondary education for the children in those Regions. These are usually poorer children; these are usually children that are far away because they are in riverine and deep hinterland areas. These are the people this budget is catering for; these are the children this budget is catering for. If we speak of equal opportunity and a quality education and the desire to have those things, then it must be more than lyrics. It must be where we intend to do this and we will manifest that intention by voting the right way. We will manifest that intention by supporting the right proposals. That is all that I ask this afternoon in this Hon. House.
In addition, to universal secondary education, we recognise the (UNESCO) projection; we have taken that into consideration here in Guyana. Eighty percent of the world’s workforce would be Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) reliant. They would be reliant on technical and vocational education skills. As a result of which Guyana has been preparing herself and her people for this new movement in the world. As a result of that we have more than nine technical and vocational educational institutes, where we have more than 3000 men and women. Most of them are young men and women enrolled in the different areas doing different training for technical and vocational skills. We graduate more than a thousand of these Guyanese young people every year. Last year we spent more than $3.3 Billion on this sector. We have been studying as Mr. Allicock well knows. To come here, which was not being candid with this House, to say that this is new and you have come and are proposing an institution at Region No.9. This is something that has been in the talks for a long time and any relatively well informed resident of Region 9 would have know that. We are in the process of studying it with a view to bringing this to fruition Sir. We expect that very shortly we will have an institute- a technical and vocational institute - at Region No.9 to cater for the boys and girls. We hope that we can count on the support from Mr. Allicock and his party; to support the $1.5 Billion allocated this year to Technical and Vocational Education across this country.
We are also catering for the children who might want to pursue the TVET type education, even in high school, etc. We have crafted the Secondary Competency Certificate Programme (SCCP) programme, which is, the Secondary Competency Certificate Programme, where we hope to graduate our children with at least a level one Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ) certificate. This would allow them to pursue skills training and job opportunities much faster when they exit the school system.
This has seen us; a combination of this and other measures, which I will come to just now, has seen us reducing the number of students who drop out of our schools every year. We have allocated in this year’s budget, more that $1 Billion for school feeding; more than $1 Billion to give to more than 64,000 of our children, of our babies, a meal every single day. This is a living budget that means a lot to the people who depend on the allocations here.
This is a National Programme, it is offered in all regions, except Region No.9. The beneficiaries are all nursery school students. It is the Fruit and 45 Biscuit Programme, where all nursery school students and primary school students in grades one and two... this is all across this country irrespective of how you look; irrespective of what gender you are; irrespective of how you parents voted, this is what we are offering to all our children in this country. We offered to 66 schools in Region No.9 that is 38 nursery schools and 28 primary schools; approximately 3,400 students; 2,239 primary students and 1240 nursery students; we offer a juice and biscuits every single day. We have budgeted $50 million for this year.
I am prepared to accept from Mr. Allicock an explanation that he was not with the programme and he is going to get with the programme. I am prepared to accept that because Mr.
Allicock is willing, I am sure, to serve the people of Region No.9 the same way we are. Those same people will tell Mr. Allicock, the thousand of them that are receiving this food every single day that he cannot take this away from them. If he takes this away from them, by what he said, “Voting down this Budget”. Is that what he said? That he is calling on all of us not to support this budget. What Mr. Allicock is doing is, he is saying to those 3,400 students in Region 9, “You do not count, we do not want to give you a meal, never mind that I can eat three squares a day, tuff if you cannot. That is what he is saying.
The community Hot Meal Programme is offered in Region Nos. 1, 7, 8, and 9. In total nearly 6,300 students benefit from this programme every day. They receive daily lunches at school. In this 2013 Budget $550 Million is budgeted to provide hot meals to 16,000 students in Region Nos.1, 7, 8 and 9. So you see it is easy. It is easy when we have our various business interests and parliamentary salaries and are able to afford three square meals a day and benefited from something that allows us in our education. It is easy to deny or it is easy to ignore what this budget is going to do for people who really need it. If we are really going to ask for equal opportunity across this land, then we must pave the way for people to be able to avail themselves of the equal opportunities that we are offering.
We also have been giving, for a number of years and continue in the 2013 budget, to every single student nursery, primary and secondary - from nursery all the way to grade 11 - to every single student in Guyana, either a uniform allowance or material or fabric to make a uniform. More than $300 Million will be spent on doing this programme this year. And again, if this is not supported then we must stand here and look the parents in their eyes, we must look those children in the eyes and tell them go home and turn over your uniform, you cannot get one this year because the Opposition is going to vote down this Budget. We are going to have to tell them that. That is going to be something that you are going to have to do for yourself. I am saying there is space because I believe that when you put everything aside here, everybody is in here and we have all, whether we held Bibles, Qurans or Bhagavad Gitas or we just affirmed, took an oath in this Hon. House and said that to the best of our ability, without affection or ill will, we were going to serve the people of Guyana. I can tell you that sometimes that oath can get clouded and I am saying that we all have an opportunity today to remove the clouds; to remove the myopia that affects us and really focus on what we are here to do. We can do that by understanding that the people who rely and depend on the allocations provided here, could only get them, if we support this budget. I am asking kindly that we remember our oath and in so doing we will do the right thing.
I can tell this House a lot more of what we have done and a lot more of what is planned. Indeed I would be happy to sit with any Member or a collection of Members at any time, on any day to discuss more of what we will be doing in the Ministry. More than that, to hear from Members in this House, whether they be Opposition or Government and indeed to hear from members of the public, whether they be parents or guardians or students themselves. How is it we can better serve the children of Guyana in the education system? How is it that we can better prepare our school leavers for the work ahead of them, the development of our country? We would be happy to talk to our people, to anyone about that.
The combination of many measures, the provision of school uniforms, the provision of meals, the different environments – the provision of the actual classroom, the provision of trained teachers to a percentage that is unprecedented in our land. All of these things have contributed to us seeing a reduction in the dropout rates in our country. This is something that concerns us all.
We are concerned as I am sure the other Members of this. We on the Government side are concerned; we at the Ministry of Education are deeply concerned about every single child that leaves school early. We are concerned that that child would not be prepared for the world that faces them and more. We are concerned that we would be robbing ourselves of the benefit of a child who is properly prepared to help to develop Guyana. This is something that we will keep working at. This is something that we will join with other countries across this world in trying to resolve. Many countries, including those countries that have far more millions of people and far more years of experience addressing the issues of education that they struggle with daily. We will continue to address this issue. I am happy to report in this House and I think the Nation needs to know that with the measures that the PPP/Civic Government have put in place over the last couple of years, we have seen a reduction in the number of children dropping out.
In 2005/2006, we had from the general secondary schools 7.5% of our population or 1940 students dropping out. In the 2009/2010 period, we had 4%. That is a reduction by 3%; we are talking about 800-900 children that stayed in the school system and who are now going to be able to better prepare themselves and their families for all that Guyana is able to give. So for what we have done in budget after budget and what we have been asking to be able to continue to do, once this budget is approve, is to allow our children the opportunity to finish school so that they can develop their lives, their family’s lives and our country better than if they were not able to finish school. For every child that we offer school meals to; for every child that we offer the uniforms to; for every child that we offer more trained teachers to, we are more likely to be able to retain in our education system, retain in our class rooms, our boys and girls so that they can benefit from the instructions that happens in those classrooms. I was a little put off just now with a suck teeth that I heard; wherever you sit in this House, the fact that 800 children in a four year period stayed in school rather than dropping out, should be something that we are all cheering about.
The other thing I would want to address quickly before I start addressing some matters relating to Region No.5, where I am the geographic representative, is our Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) results. We have been entering, year after year, higher and higher numbers of candidates, which speaks to a perhaps a better education system, which speaks to us being able to retain and attract more children in our system. In 2008, where 9,912 students had written CXC, by 2012 that number went up to 13,878 students. That is a jump of about 4,000 more children writing CXC because of the very measures that we have put in place.
When the Hon. Member, Mr. Bulkan says that this Budget has nothing and the budget by itself does nothing, the Hon. Member would be encouraged to understand that year after year, budgets build on each other and build on gains that we have made. What this budget is trying to do is to accelerate those gains that we have made.
Back in 2008, the Hon. Member may have well have said, there is not have enough here for “X”, “Y” and “Z” so let us throw the whole thing out. If we had done that, if we had taken that attitude then, then five years later we would not have seen the 4,000 more students writing CXC; 4,000 more students being exposed to opportunities that they would not have been exposed to.
We have also seen a worrying trend, something that again, while we can paint the picture that wows Guyana, we have seen worrying grades in mathematics and English. This is a worry we share with the entire Caribbean Region; this is a worry we share with the world. That is where the STEM subjects - science, technology, English, mathematics- engineering mathematics - came up. This was a whole project – GOOGLE it. The entire world is addressing this issue. We recognise that we have had poor grades in mathematics since Adam was a boy. If fact, I have grades here from 1985 all the way on to 2012, which I cannot give. But I could say this Sir, when I wrote CXC in 1992, 9.8% of the students or the writing population passed English. When I wrote mathematics in 1992, 18% of the students passed. Last year, what we got was a little bit of an increase at 30% and 29%. My point is, this has been a problem forever, so we can stop behaving as though this is something that brewed over the last two, three or five years. This is a problem that Guyana is struggling with; this is a problem that the Caribbean is struggling. We are going to continue putting measures in place with the hope and in certain cases with the confidence that they will work. In fact, we actually introduced the math and English programmes for the CXC class of 2012 and we saw relatively good results. Where in the Region, that the entire CARICOM Region, the mathematics pass rate was 33% and in Guyana the overall pass rate was 29%. The pilot schools passed at 39%, topping the overall region and the regional average and the national average. Where in English, the regional pass rate was 47% and our overall pass rate was 37%, our pilot schools got a pass rate of 52%, again topping even the regional average.
I do not think this is a problem we can solve over night; this is something we are going to have to continue to work at. What I can say with confidence that I have seen, is renewed interest and perhaps a deeper belief now that we can solve this if we work at it amongst the stakeholders. Who are those stakeholders? Teachers, regional education officers, parents and students with more of an understanding that this is not something we have to throw up our arms at. This is something once tackled, we can conquer this monster.
I believe that this is something that while we do not know yet if this is the solution, I can say that the introduction of this new project has created a level of confidence that I did not see before. I ask you to join us on this programme. When we go all across the country to the schools talking to parents about how they can help their children, come with us in those schools. Throw on you jeans on Sunday morning and come let us talk to those parents about what they need to do; how they need to support their children because in this battle we are going to need every single person on board.
Without a doubt the education sector is again receiving much attention. Like I said over the last five years, we have seen this sector being allocated at least 15% on average; 15% of the Nation’s budget. This is different from before. We have seen how that increased allocation and commitment over the years resulted in better results in our children staying in school. I suspect we will see benefits from it 20 years down the line when these children are now blossoming in the world of work, in the classroom teaching, at an engineering site building bridge. We will see the effects of this later on in Guyana.
We will continue in this sector to offer our very best as far as we can. I wish to, before I close on the education sector, say heartfelt thank you to the people who work daily - they are not in the newspapers and they are not in the headlines - the teachers and the education officers and the planners and the people who work every single day to make sure our children gets an education so that they can be better prepared for the world of work. We are going to continue our partnerships with the people we partner with and take this sector forward.
I am the geographical representative of Region No.5 – Mahaica, Berbice. We heard from Ms. Wade earlier and I have to say this, from the beginning, without reservation. Ms. Wade is one of the hardest working members of that side of the House. I can say that without reservation. She is genuine in her efforts and hardworking on the ground. I have seen it myself and I have seen how dedicated she is. I do hesitate to adopt all that the Hon. Member has said. The Hon. Member painted a picture and said, we must not come on this side of the House and say that all is bright and beautiful and all is wise and wonderful. We must come and we must say that things are left to be done. As I said, the budget is intituled, “Overcoming challenges together”. We recognise we have challenges. The Hon. Member did exactly what she was saying that we should not do. She painted a picture of Region No.5 that was so woeful; everything is terrible, nothing is right, everything is going bad. I grew up there; this is my Region. The Hon. Member spoke of rice farmers. That is my story; that is my father. The Hon. Member spoke of cattle farmers. That is my father and that is me. I actual am a cattle farmer. This is my story, I understand it. What the Hon. Member is saying might be true, but it is not the picture the Hon. Member was painting.
Mahaicony Creek, all the way to Barabara, they have electricity. Something we would not have dreamt of when I was growing up. Someone posted on Facebook the other day, a picture of an engine and me. The most non-technical person could have identified that it was a Lister Engine. Because I have seen Lister Engines used for the generation of electricity in that community. They have electricity now not something they would have ever dreamt of. Are there communities left without electricity? Of course, but this is the constant building we would have to do. When everywhere in Region No.5 has electricity, then we have to start making sure every home is painted and we have to make sure everybody has water. That is how we build. And that is what we are asking you to partner with us to do.
It is true that farmers have irrigation problems, but the Hon. Member did not say that that number was much reduced. In 1990, rice was produced in Guyana at 93,444 metric tonnes. In 2012, we had a 450% increase, at 422,000 metric tonnes. Do you know how that was done? That was done because the drainage and irrigation is much better; that is not to say that there still not works to be done. It is much better than it was. The confidence in the sector is much higher than it ever was before and the technology transfer, where we have Rice Extension Officers going out and teaching people how to plant new varieties and what to do with those new varieties and how to bring in higher yields. These are things that have contributed to the historic production of 422,000 metric tonnes of rice – the highest we have ever produced in our country.
In Region No.5 there is a problem. The problem is that landlords are not paying their rents so the farmers, hardworking men and a smaller number of women work every day to bring in produce and we can stand here and celebrate it. Those farmers, the smaller farmers, are paying $12,000 to $16,000 per acre for rice and the MMA is asking the landlords to pay $2,500 per acre and the landlords are the ones not paying so some of the persons that Ms. Wade might have been speaking of are not on the land and are not living there. They are in other Regions, not even in other communities. The farmers are toiling every day, rain or shine. Those farmers who are toiling every day are not the farmers who are to be blamed. They are the people working to give us produce. They are putting rice on our plates, literally. The problem is that the landlords are not paying and we must not defend those. We must make sure that they pay so that the very people we stand here to represent, the smaller farmers, can receive the services they need.
Region No.5 is on the move. As I said, by the end of this year we are going to have universal secondary education in that Region. We are going to have… I am out of time, but I could have told you of pages and pages of work that was done last year. In the health sector alone there are six projects that were done that are benefitting large numbers of persons. For example, there is a construction of a reservoir and water filtering mechanism at the Mahaicony Hospital which will benefit 72 medical staff members and 750 patients daily. What that means is not only are they going to get the water and we have a structure; it means that 750 people do not have to run from Mahaicony or Region No.5 to Georgetown Hospital; it means that the doctors who are serving are conserved in a more habitable environment. We are providing services with the moneys provided in the annual budget and year after year we are building on the gains we have made.
This year’s budget has much for many and I say that it is incumbent on us, it is almost a sacred duty, to make sure that we do not deny the beneficiaries – not us in this House but the people of Guyana – the benefits the 2013 Budget has in store for them.
I thank you, Sir. [Applause]
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