Budget Speech - Mrs Mrs. Chandarpal—20142806 03 Apr, 2014
Mrs. Chandarpal: Mr. Speaker, Hon. Members, I wish to congratulate the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh and his team for the work in crafting the 2014 Budget with the theme "A Better Guyana for all Guyanese" which captures succinctly the ideal which we all aspire for as a Nation.
We are reminded constantly about the natural riches of our country by many who have had the opportunity to see it. We know that we have the potential to make our country the proverbial "El Dorado” if only we can get the cooperation of the Opposition to put Guyana first as some would like to assert.
The quotes on the front page of the Budget Speech presented by the Hon. Minister of Finance remind us that we are on a positive path of development in a variety of ways. The one used by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) of 14th February, 2014 states, and I quote:
"Guyana is a good example of a country that has done some of the right things... they have come a very, very long distance in terms of their fiscal situation."
Good economists and house wives know that you can only spend what you have, and that the prudent management of money is a must whether it is your home or country.
The Minister of Finance reminded us in his speech that the economy recorded its eight consecutive year of growth, with real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) expanding by 5.2. This represents the longest period of uninterrupted real economic growth in independent Guyana.
We have heard the various Minsters providing enough information on their respective sectors. We have heard of the various initiatives and projects which have created thousands of jobs for citizens. But you know what; some of my Hon. colleagues across the table do not see anything happening. You know the saying, "There are none so blind as those who do not wish to see.” As far as the Opposition is concerned we have not done anything good for Guyana. Well it is their preferred view. But there is an objective view not from the Government, but the International Monetary Fund (IMF) who in December, 2013 had this to say, and I quote from the Budget Speech:
"During the last decade Guyana's strong macroeconomic performance has contributed to a reduction in public debt levels and sustained poverty reduction.”
Guyana will be celebrating 48 years as an independent nation. Those leaders who led the Independence struggle had a vision for Guyana, and we as their heirs have a patriotic responsibility to ensure the accelerated growth of our country in all areas of endeavour to make that vision a reality. All of us want to live in a country where our needs are met and where the young in particular will have their dreams and aspirations fulfilled.
If we want the young people of this country to stay and develop we have to stop perpetuating these negative and divisive acts which are impeding our progress.
The people’s National Congress (PNC) had the opportunity to rule this country for nearly three decades through rigged elections, undemocratic and dictatorial rule. Members of the PNC in the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) partnership seem to have forgotten that. They held on fiercely to power whether it was by overseas voting or by the Army takeover of the ballot boxes.
The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government on the other hand have the opportunity to govern but the difference here is that we are doing so by democratic rule.
We all aspire to see a better Guyana but yet when a transformative project like the Amaila Falls becomes possible our Opposition, who instead of being patriotic and innovative, opted to strangle the project. You keep harping about the cost of living and everything else, but we all know that unless we have cheaper electricity we will not be able to advance the developmental agenda as quickly as we want.
The Opposition sought to create havoc when the progressive increase was made for electricity in Linden in 2012. [Interruption] I am my own woman; I follow no one. This year $3.2 billion has been provided to meet the cost of maintaining the electricity subsidy in Linden and Kwakwani so that 10,500 electricity customers in Region 10 can continue to benefit from $23,000 monthly for electricity consumer. Compare this to the $3.7 billion to benefit 170,000 of Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL) customers and their families.
The Hon. Members in the Opposition have been putting up roadblocks all along, using all means possible to thwart development.
When will you stop being obstructionists and start behaving responsibly and constructively? When? Even before the debate started you were putting up boulders and stone walls. The problem is you had operated in an age when no one had access to information, because you silenced dissent. Today, you have access to information, hence the ability to scrutinize and to cuss us out.
Budget 2014 provides for increases in the social sectors which have been a trend of all previous PPP/C budgets. This Hon. Member Vanessa Kissoon is one of the principles of Dr. Jagan when he spoke about 'people being at the centre of development'.
We have changed the order of spending by ensuring that more money is spent on health, education and housing, rather than on propaganda and the machinery for the suppression of the people. We have provided subsidy over the years for electricity, provided loans for students, and made lands affordable for the citizens of this country. Where can you buy a piece of land for US$250 for low income bracket? Tell me which part of the world can you do it? [Mr. Greenidge: Not here.] It was here. Dr. Jagan did not allow the bauxite industry to fall apart when he got into office. Millions of United States dollars were voted annually to ensure people kept their jobs. It is the same argument for the sugar industry. We do not want people to lose their jobs. Perhaps the old attitude and belief still lingers with the Opposition, that sugar workers should still remain bare-footed and ignorant.
I was shocked to hear the comment made by Hon. Keith Scott when he said, and I quote:
"No money spent on projects will deliver a better life for people".
It is such a backward comment. But you should not be surprised because the Hon. Member is now joined in Opposition with those who failed for 28 years to deliver a better life for people. Your great brother-in law, Hon. Member, must be turning in his grave.
What about the initiatives of Linden Economic Advancement Fund (LEAF) and Linden Economic Advancement Programme (LEAP) which provided assistance to the people of Linden? What about the massive housing drive in Amelia’s Ward? Who built it? Did not people of the area benefit from jobs as masons, painters, carpenters, truckers, and etcetera? Please do not repeat this fallacious comment. Return to your earlier way of thinking before you became politically contaminated.
Budget 2014 provides additional assistance to the elderly, job creation for young people, assistance to children going to school, access to credit, among others which were alluded to by other speakers. We applaud the initiative to keep Guyana clean. I, personally, am ready and willing to be part of this initiative on a voluntary basis. This is something which is needed, and we do hope that this one will not fall on your chopping block. [Interruption] As a matter of fact the nice up Guyana started since 1998. You were not even around.
The Opposition have requested answers to numerous questions on various Government policies, and they have being receiving them. Rather than chopping, you can do the correct thing by monitoring the process which is the role of the Opposition. You are not the elected Government; we still have the constitutional right to run this country. You can choose to vote against, but we have the responsibility to govern.
We were reminded by Hon. Joe Hamilton of the improvements and initiatives of the health sector when he spoke. The Parliamentary Sectoral Committee visited four Hospitals - Leonora, West Demerara Regional, Diamond Diagnostic and the Mahaicony Hospital. We went, we saw, we made recommendations and we were satisfied with the outcome of that visit. And all Members of that team agreed.
A social worker from the Campbellville Health Centre speaks glowingly of the difference which they are making to the lives of people. She did not complain about the money but reminded that she was there to serve. I had the opportunity to visit the Georgetown Hospital as well, and I am pleased with the improvements and services that are being offered. Of course, there are lapses from time to time which have to be reduced by improving management.
I want to congratulate the Minister of Health and the Ministry for the various initiatives taken to improve women's health. These initiatives were already alluded to by the Hon. Minister Dr. Ramsaran. Effective management at the Regional hospitals in collaboration with the Regions will definitely see improvement in the services which are provided.
Budget 2014 allocates a sum of $13.7 billion which is budgeted to improve roads and bridges of which $12.9 billion will be spent on roads and $844.2 million will be spent on bridges.
Expansion of our roads is critical since there has been an increase of vehicular traffic. In the late 80s there were 15,000 vehicles on the road and by 1992 that increased to 18,000. In 2013 all vehicles including agricultural, motor cycle, ATV's Buses, Lorries, cars, vans, pick-ups, jeeps etc. amounts to 128,000. [Interruption] Mr. Harmon, Hon. Member, I think you should think about that as you criticise the roads. This excludes bicycles, horse driven and donkey carts and all the containers that we see daily on the road.
As one of the Regional Representatives from Region 4 I wish to refer to some major Development Projects which were undertaken by the Ministry of Public Works and Ministry of Housing for this Region. They are as follows:
- The construction of the four-lane access road to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) on the East Bank Demerara four-lane highway as well as the widening of the East Coast Highway. These projects will continue.
- A study for the new Demerara Bridge has been completed, and already Government has invited expressions of interest for a public-private partnership for its construction.
- An additional $338 million is allocated for critical works to extend the life of the Demerara Harbour Bridge.
The sum of $1,021.020 billion was allocated for seventy-six roads in 2013. Thirty five (35) roads were completed to the tune of $351.638 million with forty-one at varying levels of completion.
The Ministry of Housing under the Community Roads Improvement Programme (CRIP)
Programme has completed the following community roads:
- NDC, Unity/Vereening - $494.452.million were spent on 32 community roads;
- Mon Repos /La Reconnaissance - $248 million were spent on 31 roads;
- Enmore/Hope NDC - $180.426 million for 15 roads;
- Golden Grove /Diamond - $193.343 million on 14 roads;
- Haslington /Grove $230.708 million for 18 community roads;
- lndustry/Plaisance NDC $318.814 million were spent.
In 2013, Central Housing and Planning Authority (CHPA) expended $5.28 billion to develop 4,668 lots in nine areas on the East Bank of Demerara. All of these are on-going projects.
In terms of Sanitation Improvement, $600 million is allocated to improve Georgetown sanitation.
Mr. Speaker: Hon. Member, you have five minutes within which to conclude.
Mrs. Chandarpal: Thank you Mr. Speaker. The monyes allocated to the development of more housing schemes, provision of water supply, improvement in the drainage and irrigation along with all of the initiatives taken by the various Government ministries will improve the lives of citizens as we continue in the task of making Guyana a better place for all Guyanese. The dream of making our country a better place is fast becoming a reality. Of course, there are problems, but these will have to be resolved in order to move Guyana forward.
In response to the ATV issue that was raised by the Hon. Member Ms. Marcello, I want to say that the six ATVs were handed over in November, 2013. Meetings were held on 29th March, 2014 in Cato and the senior councillor came to the meetings with his ATV to meet the Minister. I just want you to correct that misinformation that the Hon. Member said.
Once again, I wish to congratulate the Hon. Minister Dr. Ashni Singh and his capable staff of the Minister of Finance. I commend the Budget and call on the Opposition to really put Guyana first and give support to the forward looking Budget 2014. I thank you. [Applause]
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