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Copyright ©2014 Parliament of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana.

Budget Speech - Mr Benn—2014

Hits: 3375 | Published Date: 04 Apr, 2014
| Speech delivered at: 76th Sitting - Tenth Parliament
| Speech Delivered by : Hon. Brindley H.R. Benn, MP

Minister of Public Works [Mr. Benn]: I took note when Mrs. Garrido–Lowe, the Hon. Member, was speaking of her imprecation and issues with respect to women issues, not particularly the one with respect to prostate cancer. I took note of the general tone of her presentation because I remembered myself saying, at another forum, that the twentieth-first century belongs to women and the thrust of the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) budget for 2014 speaks to improving life for all Guyanese, with respect to the question of the largest chunk of the budget going towards issues that primarily affect women and revolve around women. This is an approach that we have always undertaken. The thrust of the budget, A Better Guyana for All Guyanese,... The content of the budget goes along with our overall thrust in improving our country, improving the life, the living, the status of women and children because we think, based on the appropriations of the budget which are related to women’s issues, that this is the most safe and productive use of the resources out of a public sector budget.
Somewhere it is said that in order to move forward one must go back to reconcile with one’s past before one can return to move forward in tranquillity. I believe - given our experience from last year’s high jinks, cussing out, quarrels and unseeing events in this honourable House - that perhaps we all need to look back to the experience of last year, at the presentation of Budget 2013, that we now have to reconcile that just recent past and take the opportunity now to take our country forward in tranquillity.

Our country does not need any more trouble. I believe, and I hope somehow, that despite some things, which were said, that we have this great opportunity, now, to take good consideration of where we who represent the best that our country has to offer at the level of politics, government and governance, we who are in this... You, Mr. Speaker, at the close of the new Hon. Member’s speech last night, a woman too - I welcome her discussion and engagement last night - you talked about a star being born. I think we are all stars in this Chamber and this is a star chamber.

Mr. Speaker: Hon. Member, in ancient time a star chamber had a certain connotation that the learned Attorney General may advise you about, so be careful.
Mr. Benn: I refer to a star chamber in which the best that the Guyanese people have to offer, in terms of politics, learning and economics. The best people, who we have to offer on all sides, from all heirs of our country, are represented in this Chamber. The Guyanese stars are in this Chamber with respect to this problem.  I think we need to have to take the position and reconcile our past. If I go back to last year’s problems to try to reconcile ourselves, with respect to what occurred, maybe, I should only speak with respect to my Ministry.
I recall that we had, with respect to our budget, $5.6 billion of budget cuts carried out, proposed, coming from the Opposition benches, both the APNU and the AFC...   [Ms. Ally: A-P-N-U. It is not APNU.]     PNU, okay. It was $5.6 billion. There were very unkind cuts in the budget of 2013. I would not want to state that there was malice aforethought. I would not want to say that it was not properly considered. Perhaps, people were all excited, again, about the one-seat majority and all of these things, but there were a lot of very unkind cuts. There were transformative projects which were cut. We speak particularly to the issues of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport project, $5.35 billion cut. We speak to the issue of the civil aviation, $80 million cut, with respect to safer and improved landing facilities and instrumentation. The unkindest cut of all was the cut to hinterland airstrips.
The Hon. Members in this House, on the other side, are coming, now in this House to talk about hinterland airstrips; they are talking about their love for indigenous people; they are talking about how our hinterland residents are being suffering from poor airstrips, poor aero services and all of these things. They have had an attack of contrition and so I am glad that they have come to a position, now, where they are prepared to support, I believe, the transformative projects, including the important matter of hinterland airstrips for our Amerindian people.

Again, Dr. Ashni Singh and his team have presented to us a significant budget in extremely trying circumstances with respect to our country’s development, against a background regional and international... I think the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), only a few days ago, Ms. Christine Lagarde, was speaking to how, for Europe particularly, an international economy, the outlook, the future, was bleak and will continue to be bleak for the next few years, particularly speaking to the questions of low or no growth.
In spite of all of the criticisms, in spite of the threats... I would say that I would have to regret that it seems to be the modus operandi of the Opposition always to have our county in a state of continuous stress, in a state of continuous uproar, in a state of continuous trouble and worry. Perhaps this is how it benefits; this is how it continues its existence in politics. In spite of all of these things, the PPP/C, President Ramotar and his Minister of Finance, the Cabinet and  the people who worked hard every day have delivered again to Guyana, the eighth year of continuous, successive, sustained growth at 5% and over to our country.

The people who plant the rice... I was going up on the West Coast of Berbice the other day and it struck me that people were smiling on the road, that the rice crop were coming in. I noted that people were happy and active and were busy because the rice crop was coming in. I noted too that in all of the communities, the mining communities, Bartica - I was recently at Kamarang and at Imbaimadai – that there has been a dramatic transformation of the skylines of those communities and the size and living conditions of the communities as a result of the efforts in the mining sector and the services sector related thereto.

We have our struggles in sugar, but that is our struggle to deal with. We have the continued efforts in the bauxite sector. With respect to the Opposition attempts to dismantle the economy, to throw it into reverse...  I went back to last year, the people of Guyana, the Guyanese people of all races, ethnicity, religions and political persuasions, given the Opposition attempts to dismantle our economy and to continue negative growth in our economy, have given the answer. The answer they have given is a positive answer, that they want to see their country developed and grow and prosper and that they expect from us here, in this honourable House, the kind of engagement which will continue to see the improvement in lives and living, so that we hand on to the future generations a better life, if not for ourselves, even.
I therefore want to congratulate the Minister of Finance again for his diligent work, for his risk averse approach deliberate to the question of the financial management, for the stewardship of our economy, of our country. I want to give him and his team all of the accolades with respect to this matter because this is the most important matter to how we move forward, how we continue to ensure food security, how  we continue to ensure employment and living and a better life for people.
With respect to this year’s budget, I have to report that we did indeed have, for the year 2013, a fairly difficult year. It is true that when we had all of the problems in the House -  when we had the fights, the Attorney General Mr. Nandlall, Minister of Finance Dr. Singh and others making presentations; when we had the resorts to the courts from all sides of the House... We had a position for a time when there was a lot of confusion, in which investors, contractors and ordinary Guyanese were not sure as to whether we could have sustained our country, as to whether we should have continued to work. There was a slow start-up of projects; there were problems with respect to how we   put the synergy and get our projects going. Overall, with an $18 billion provision for last year, we were only able to achieve 84% of our programmes for 2013.  

For 2014, we are being provisioned with $22.4 billion which is a $4.4 billion increase with respect to the budget. This is a percentage increase of 24.2 %. We would be hard-pressed but will work at a will at it this year to make sure we would fulfil the anticipations, the expectations of our Government and our people.
With respect to bridges, if I may start with that activity, we know that the Demerara Harbour Bridge is the significant linkage between the East and the West Bank of Demerara. The bridge has done quite a bit of work with respect to its rehabilitation and maintenance. I had said to the honourable House before - I heard Mr. Harmon to say last night that the bridge will not last its term - that this bridge is intended to last another seven years, so one year later I would say that we have six more years for the continuation and the proper maintenance of the bridge. The bridge is in fine condition for its age, from 1978, I believe. The bridge is under good management and maintenance.
The total number of vehicles which cross this bridge for 2013 is just over 6 million going both ways. This is a 5.5% increase on the previous year and we expect that this number may increase for 2014. We are looking at ways to reduce the loading by encouraging truck traffic to barge across at particular locations and we are looking particularly too at, perhaps, putting in place additional water taxi stations on the Demerara River to optimise the crossing at peak hours of the Demerara River. The bridge, for 2013, has had a $479 million income revenue which is an increase of 11% over the previous year and a total of $367 million, a 5% difference and is currently carrying a surplus of $113 million which is being used for ongoing maintenance of the bridge.
With respect to a new Demerara River crossing Hon. Members may be aware that we put out expression of interest for a new public/private partnership to get proposals for a new crossing.
We have had 23 expressions and the National Procurement & Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) is working on a committee to do the evaluation of the bids of the expressions of interest so that we could go forward with some arrangement which would allow us to have a new bridge across the Demerara River in six years time. Conceptually, the three proposed locations are Versailles to Houston, Schoonord to Peters Hall and Patentia to New Hope. This does not shut out any other location.
For 2014, there is $338 million which has been allocated for capital works – two new extra large pontoons, fabrication buoys and connecting posts, supply of sheaves and tackles, rehabilitation of pontoons and hydraulic system – so that we could continue to have this Bridge in a safe, operating condition over the next few years.
Hon. Members may be aware that there were a couple of collisions in 2013 with the Bridge from marine traffic. These matters are being attended to, but we are improving the lighting, bollards and cluster pile systems which would prevent serious damage to the Bridge that can bring it out of service.
Road and bridges under international lending agencies: these relate to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the European Union (EU). Nine bridges and 11 culverts were successfully completed in 2013 – two on the East Bank and nine on the West Coast Berbice public road alignments. These works were particularly and interestingly done by national contractors – Kares Engineering Inc. and Dalip Enterprise – and these works came in on budget and on time, and I want to salute these two national firms. We are encouraging the greater involvement of national firms in larger, heavier construction work that we undertake. We are very happy with this result and we want to be able to involve and encourage more and more heavy engineering enterprises by our national construction companies in this work.
We have had significant issues with respect to the third road project. We did have the East Bank Demerara road widening project and the East Coast Demerara road widening project. We have had significant issues and problems with respect to the question of utilities, their location, their removal, the funding for drainage to stabilise the sides of the road and, overall, the inclement weather and unseasonable weather in 2013 impacted negatively on our ability to finish these works in time.
We have also had a scarcity of materials. There has been a delayed delivery of materials, particularly construction stone. The quarry sector has to improve its production by some 40% for domestic production to meet our national construction needs not only for the heavy infrastructure, but also for housing and other domestic works. So, we have had to encourage the resort to the importation of stone from Dominica, St. Vincent and other places to try to haul back the delays in our schedules with respect to these roads.
We have had discussions with the contractors recently, particularly with respect to those on the East Bank Demerara road project. Now that we have the weather, we had discussions with respect to the 5.4 kilometres widening. This is a US$17.2 million effort. Dipcon Engineering Services has Lot 1 for US$8 million, Geico [inaudible] for US$5.8 million and BK International has Lot 3 for US$3.4 million. We anticipate that the entire 5.4 kilometre section of this road would have significant completion by the end of this year.
We are undertaking an effort to improve the Sheriff Street/Mandela Avenue public road for 7.2 kilometres in length. The pre-qualification of contractors for the civil works is in progress. We have had consultations at the local level and at the technical level with respect to this project. We expect that the actual works will commence in June of this year and this effort would be funded by the IDB for US$25 million, approximately.
The other important project which we are undertaking...we recently launched with the Caribbean Development Bank the West Coast Demerara Vreed-en-Hoop to Parika roadway project. The design has been completed. The pre-qualification of contractors to execute the civil works is in progress and works are expected to commence around the latter half of 2014. Funding is US$34.2 million, approved from the Caribbean Development Bank.
There has been an ongoing discussion with respect to the East Bank Berbice road. We had initially anticipated that late last year or early this year we would have started works with respect to the East Bank Berbice road. Because of the funding requirements with respect to the design that is required for this road, changes with respect to the allocation of funding for the road were made so as to be able to realise the design that is required for the type of road. The work for this road will be done at the beginning of the fourth quarter in 2014 and, of course, will bring much needed relief to the persons on the East Bank Berbice and open up the agricultural lands there so that a lot of the arguments, quarrels and upsets with respect to the anticipated scheduled dates for the finishing of this road can be set aside. I want to assure the House and Berbicians on the East Bank of Berbice that the works on this road will start in the fourth quarter of 2014.
In the area of sea defences, I would have to say that despite the noises and little troubles we have sometimes and the dramatic pictures, which are usually inaccurate, and which are put in the newspapers with the stories that go along with them, our sea defence structures are under good management and attention. Based on the condition surveys, we are aware of those areas of sea defences which need attention. We publish, at every spring tide, areas largely on the question of wind driven storm surges, where there may be overtopping. Everywhere there has been an overtopping has been an area where we have warned about and where the foreshore may have been lowered against the sea defence. We have to understand that where there is overtopping, it does not represent a breach of the sea defences. Water splashing over the wall does not represent a breach in the sea defences. The sea defence structures normally consist of a mangrove flat, a hard concrete structure or an earthen dam and a facade drain which leads to kokers. The representations made sometimes in the press with respect to this matter are not accurate, usually.
We have, with the Caribbean Development Bank, a third sea defences project of US$25 million. Some 5.5 kilometres of critical sections of sea defences will be attended to. We have consultancy service for the supervision and institutional strengthening and capacity building activities within the sea defence unit of the Works Services Group. Eight locations are targeted for rehabilitation – Zorg, Johanna Cecilia, Endeavour, Blenheim, Success on Leguan Island, Grove and Look Out on the East Bank Essequibo, Crane, Harlem, Rotterdam and Mary on the West Coast of Demerara, Good Success and New Hope on the East Bank Demerara, Lonsdale and Sisters Village on the East Bank Berbice and Line Path at No. 78 Village.
Under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) sea defence with the European Development Fund, the Government of Guyana (GoG) signed with the European Union a financing agreement on 31st January, 2014 for €14 million for the sea defence sector. It is important to note that the European Union has moved over funding for the sea defence activities from project support to budget support. This identifies their confidence in our abilities with respect to the scheduling of vital sea defence works and with respect to our engineering management, supervision and execution of the works with respect to this activity. It has moved from project support to budget support and this expression of confidence from the European Union should not be lost on any person in this House.
In respect of nationally funded projects, we have the continued construction of the new access road to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) of $2.5 million to complete this year. We have had extensions due to location of vendors. We have had issues with the removal of the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GT&T) Company’s network wiring. These issues are now being set aside and we anticipate that by August of this year, this work will be completed and that we would be able to access our International Airport in a safer manner and more appropriate manner for a facility of its size.
On the East Bank of Demerara, we expect the continuation of works to Annandale, in the first instance, road widening works, which Hon. Members would see in progress – Lots 1, 2 and 5 under Dipcon Engineering, Lot 3 under Courtney Benn Contracting Services Limited (CBCSL), Lot 4 under Compustruct Engineering Limited and Lots 6 and 7 under Colin Talbot Engineering. These are all national contractors. We do have some difficulties in a couple of sections with respect to the continuation of these works.
Mr. Speaker: Hon. Member, you require an extension.
Mr. Hinds: Mr. Speaker, I propose that the Hon. Member be given 15 minutes to continue his presentation.
Question put, and agreed to.
Mr. Benn: Mr. Speaker, I am being very deliberate in my presentation because I want the Hon. Members to pay attention to it. Some of them come and ask me to fix a pot hole or some crater in front of their houses and I try to point out the necessity to do the works in other places but we will get to them. They have no interest when we speak about the road works and bridging works for the ordinary Guyanese people.   [Mr. Ramjattan: Discrimination.]    I am prepared to discriminate against you as long as work has to be done for the ordinary Guyanese people. You will have to wait. I am waiting too, you know.    [Mr. B. Williams: You should not do that.] You have to wait too. Show the patience, Hon. Member. We are doing bridges at Sophia and Guyhoc Park to reduce the time of travel from that area. We have completed a bridge at Windsor Castle/Hampton Court. We are rehabilitating the Moleson Creek Acrapanel Bridge. We are rehabilitating the ‘B’ Field Sophia connecting bridge. [Interruption]
Mr. Speaker: Hon. Members, could you settle down please?
Mr. Benn: Mr. Speaker, in 2013...   [Mr. B. Williams: [Inaudible]]   Could I have your attention, Mr. Williams?    [Mr. B. Williams: No. Apologise.]      Mr. Speaker, I apologise to the Hon. Member for not going and fixing some hole in front of his place.
Mr. B. Williams: I rise under Standing Order No. 40 (b), Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: Standing Order No. 40 (b) states that a Member may rise to elucidate some matter raised by the Member provided that the Member speaking is willing to give way and resume his or her...
Mr. B. Williams: Well, it is a matter for him.
Mr. Speaker: Hon. Minister, are you willing to allow Mr. Basil Williams to elucidate a matter? The Member has agreed for you to proceed.
Mr. B. Williams: Mr. Speaker, the conscience is biting. Mr. Lumumba lives next to me. They fixed Mr. Lumumba’s road five years ago and not mine.
Mr. Lumumba: I rise on a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Let this National Assembly know that I hired a contractor and paid for my own road and for my mother’s road in Buxton to be done. Mr. Williams is too cheap.
Mr. Speaker: As entertaining as it is, we cannot have a sub-debate ensuing.
Mr. B. Williams: Sir, I just wanted the record to show that I have never asked the Minister to fix any road. Our President has said to me that when we win elections my road will be fixed.
Mr. Benn: Mr. Speaker, for the record, the Hon. Member, Basil Williams, has several times accosted me outside of this House and asked me when I will be fixing his road in front of his house. I have said to him every time that the road in front of my house is worse than the road in front of his. I repeat that the road in front of my house or the road in front of Mr. Basil Williams’ house will not be fixed until we fix more important roads in the community.
Mr. Speaker: Hon. Minister, you would do well to proceed rather than respond to interventions.
Mr. Benn: I repeat that the prioritisation with respect to road, bridges and all other activities relates to their attachment to a major trunk line, the number of persons in the community who are serviced by it, if there is a school, religious building or some large community building in the area or a sports centre and time with respect to when the road was built the first time and its condition. Simply put, the road in front of my house does not fit that bill and I am prepared to wait.
We did 88 kilometres of road last year both by Double Bituminous Surface Treatment (DBST) and asphaltic work. There was a supplementary provision of $400 million for maintenance of roads. We are doing 20 roads in Region 2 for $50.3 million; 22 roads in Region 3 for $50.3 million also; in Region 4, we are doing 46 roads for $79 million; in Region 5, we are doing 39 roads for $55 million; and in Region 6, we are doing 83 roads for $165 million. The benefits to be derived from this maintenance is reduced travelling time, reduction of vehicle operating cost, extension of service life of the roads and increase in driving contact. We have spent quite a bit of money and we have worked in conjunction with the Ministry of Home Affairs, particularly with respect to road accidents.
I would like to point out that our cooperation with respect to the putting in place of highway lighting, roadside barriers, improving in striping and so on, in spite of the increase in vehicular traffic – and I am told that for last year there was an increase in vehicular traffic on the road, cars particularly, of 10,000 new vehicles – we have had a stabilisation of the road fatalities in 2013 to 103 deaths, all regrettable but this is a 50% or more reduction when compared to the situation we had in 2007 when we embarked on a new programme, when the Ministry of Home Affairs started on issues of seatbelts, breathalysers and so on and we started putting in highway lights and traffic lights. This is a significant reduction but we have to continue efforts to halve this amount again if we are to achieve the international standards with respect to this matter.
I spoke of Highway lights. We have installed 257 new lights all across the coast. With respect to Linden, we have just completed a project of Highway lights from the minibus park all the way to Amelias Ward and I am happy to report that we will put those lights into service tomorrow.
Mr. Speaker, with respect to air transport, you may recall that 2013 was the year which represented a 100 years of flying in Guyana. This activity was celebrated in the country. A number of our flyers, particularly our female aviators, were recognised by the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA). The GCAA has been working continuously and we have had significant investment in its infrastructure with respect to operationalising of the Ogle International Airport. That public/private partnership has been operating successfully in the location. There has been significant improvement with respect to the instrumentation in the tower but, particularly, there has been a marked improvement in training and education with respect to air traffic management and with respect to engineering in the facility.
There are, indeed, problems from time to time which we have to address and examine, management issues and issues of ergonomics in the tower, but there has been a significant improvement overall from the base where we started. We intend to continue on the work of continuous improvement with the staff and with the facility. The GCAA is tasked with the effort of our achieving category one status, in two years time, with respect to travel to the United States of America. I would like to point out that it has been successful in graduat1ing 12 new air traffic and area control trainees. I am told that the success rate has improved from around 10% to 75% in the case of our young people who enter this programme and I think this is an important result so that we would have a new cadre of people who will continue to work this important activity of going ahead.
I did say a little about the question of the expansion of the CJIA, the runway expansion by 1,000 meters which would allow us to land jumbo jets on our runway. I have to point out to the soon expected arrival which had been licensed on 2nd April; Copa Airlines would be coming to Guyana in July and we expect them to be flying to Panama City with Embrar and 767-500s and 767-800 aircrafts and there would be more options and, perhaps, cheaper recourse with respect to flying out of our country. Panama is an international hub for South America and for the United States with respect to air transport.
The Amaila Falls Access Road which provides access to the intended important facility – the hydro power facility for 160 megawatts at Amaila Falls – will be substantially completed in April. At Section 2 a national contractor is a kilometre or so way from the river landing at Essequibo opposite Butakari and in Section 7, there are two kilometres of roadway works still to be completed with respect to the movement of traffic to the base of the Falls so that this important capital transformative activity will be undertaken.
I am still perturbed because I heard some Members talking about the derailing, the stopping, all of these problems with respect to the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project. While I leave the Prime Minister to give the important answers, I want to repeat that the question of cheap energy and cheap power for our country is, aside from the political problem, the most important thing which affects the economy of our country. It is the most important activity, the most important question, the lack of cheap power, renewable power in our national development equation. The building of the Amaila Falls Road and the establishment of the hydropower facility for 160 megawatts will resolve this problem so the question that is raised all over about investments from foreign countries with respect to the question... One gets repeated calls about feasibility studies and environmental studies and I still do not understand it. We provided these studies. These things are on the Guyana Information Agency (GINA) website. They can Google it but they come into this House and wale and carry on even after being provided with the information. We are prepared to provide the information again. We are prepared to do it again and I was reminded that we took some Hon. Members – Lt. Col. (Ret’d) Harmon and Dr. Rupert Roopnarine – on a trip there. They were very impressed with what they saw was unfolding, which they landed on. They rode about. They spoke with our young Guyanese engineers and technicians who were working on the road and are workers. They were very enthused. At the airport, they were shown all of the information at hand with respect to the development of the airport, the expansion. In any event, they came back and they applied the scissors and they cut so the very young people who were supposed to be working out there, in all of the confusion of last year, could not be mobilised to take control of the Project and to have it done as efficiently as we wanted to do all because of the cuts... [Interruption] I do not want to create any additional distress for the Hon. Member, Lt. Col. (Ret’d) Joseph Harmon. I would be the first to acknowledge that there is a significant brain thrust that resides on this side of the House; a significant brain thrust – bright, brilliant experienced men. The question is their political perception, their approach to the subjects and their willingness to be open and flexible with respect to important national questions. I look forward to the support. Maybe I should say ‘continued support’ from the Members on the other side of the House, including in the corner over here, with respect to this important synergistic national project.
We should not be coming and crying and quarrelling in here about giving moneys to Linden. I am told that it is $23,000 or $25,000 per month to every household and the net result of the putting in of this money is its wastage. Perhaps it is better that we give the people $10,000 and let them pay for power and let us see what savings would result and then we can take that money and put it into important development works with respect to the communities, particularly Linden too. It is no use that we come here... The very Hon. Member, Ms. Vanessa Kissoon...
Mr. Speaker: Hon. Minister, you have five minutes within which to wrap up, Sir.
Mr. Benn: The very Hon. Member, Ms. Vanessa Kissoon, in her presentation, made certain attacks, I perceived, against our development partners, against those who would want to come to communities which they say are significantly depressed or are in need of investment and I spoke to communities in Region 10...   [Ms. Kissoon: Ask the Prime Minister...]     Mr. Speaker, when the Hon. Member was speaking, bobbles were falling off from her head and I had a fear of the large cross that she had on her when she was speaking. There was laughter on that side of the House when Hon. Minister Dr. Bheri Ramsarran brought in their two ambulances here and they laughed at the two ambulances and the next thing you know... Who used the ambulances? Do not laugh at our well meaning interventions in this House with respect to our economy and what we want to do for all Guyanese. We mean well.    [Ms. Ally: We use ambulances. You use jets.]      I would not quarrel with the Hon. Member, Ms. Amna Ally. She is family. I would not quarrel with her.    [Mr. B. Williams: Because the woman got sick you are attacking her?]     I am pointing out the fact that whenever we attempt to make provision that is useful and well thought out with respect to our activities, it is scoffed at. It is laughed at. I am prepared, as it was said that we will be going through the Budget and we are in Committee line by line to provide information, to provide the Hon. Member, Mr. Ramjattan, who talked about having his scissors to do an abortion on parts of the budget...
Mr. Speaker: You have two minutes, Sir. I do not know if you want to spend them in this manner.
Mr. Benn: I am prepared to provide all information that we have at hand to be as open as only we can be with respect to our national Budget. Our country has moved from a time... I recall when, in the early days...
Mr. Speaker: You have 40 seconds, Mr. Benn, Hon. Minister.
Mr. Benn: ...when a certain Cheddi Jagan and Samuel Hinds and others and a Dr. Roger Luncheon... When one came to them with big problems – money for bauxite, money for this, money for that – they used to tell us “hold strain”. “We have to hold strain and we will improve it slowly.” We have improved it. We will make it even better...    [Mr. B. Williams: For whom?] ...for all Guyanese, including you, Hon. Member Mr. Basil Williams, and we need your earnest support with respect to achieving this result.
Thank you, Hon. Members and Mr. Speaker. [Applause]

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