Budget Speech - Mr Irfan Ali—20145696 04 Sep, 2014
Minister of Housing [Mr. Ali]: Mr. Speaker, I wish to first of all congratulate the Hon. Dr.Ashni Singh and his competent staff for preparing a budget that is realistic - one that speaks to the issues facing our population, and one that seeks to bring balance in terms of income distribution and balance in terms of the distribution of the national wealth. For this, all of us must congratulate the Minister of Finance.
There are lots of statements that were made prior to the commencement of these debates today. The Hon. Carl Greenidge led those controversial statements in the newspapers referring to the debates that we are engaging today as maybe a period of bloody war. He also, today, took us down a road of outlining broad topics and making broad statements without pointing to a single measure; to a single policy; or to a single input that he or his party would have liked to see in the National Budget that would have improved the lives of people.
When you are the lead speaker in relation to a budget that is presented, you have the responsibility of presenting the alternative you so wish to present. Today, I appeal to every single media house that is present here to carry the Hon. Carl Greenidge’s speech word for word and let the people out there judge whether he has an alternative in relation to the presentation by the Hon. Dr.Ashni Singh. [Interruption]
I must deal with the issue of context and how the National Budget is crafted. The National Budget is informed by a number of national strategies on which the entire population were consulted, including the National Development Strategy, the Public Sector Investment Programme, the Low Carbon Development Strategy and the Manifesto of the political party that is elected to Government and elected by the people to represent their interest.
I want to correct something in this House. The Hon. Member Carl Greenidge keeps referring to the combine impact of the combine force in the Opposition...
Mr. Speaker: Sorry one second Mr. Ali. Mr.Greenidge?
Mr.Greenidge: I do not recall making any such statement.
Mr. Ali: Mr. Speaker, the last time we checked, the PPP/C holds 32 seats in this National Assembly, the APNU holds 26 seats and the Alliance For Change (AFC) holds 7 seats. The majority party in the National Assembly is the PPP/C. But guess what? When we cry foul, we must also let the population know that this majority party does not hold even the Deputy Speaker’s position. When we were in majority, the Opposition always held the position of Deputy Speaker. [Interruption]
Mr. Speaker I hope I will get back my time. [Interruption]
Mr. Speaker: Okay Hon. Members allow Mr. Ali to make his presentation please. Go ahead, Mr. Ali.
Mr. Ali: Mr. Speaker, all of us bear responsibility in here. On this side of the House we knew it would have been irresponsible not to allow the post of Deputy Speaker, when we had the majority. In the interest of the people of this country we did the responsible thing. That is what we did. [Interruption]
I will not be derailed in the substance of the matter we are here to debate on today, that is, in relations to the National Budget of Guyana 2014. This budget has wide spread support in our population and, unlike the Hon. Member Carl Greenidge, who said that the budget has sent our population into silence, only in the Guyana Chronicle headlines yesterday I read Private Sector Commission (PSC) supports measures. Is the Hon. Member Mr. Carl Greenidge saying that the members in the Private Sector Commission does not matter or their views in relations to the budget do not matter? [Interruption]
Mr. Speaker: Hon. Members, Mr.Greenidge is trying to speak to me and I need to hear. You may take your seat please Mr. Ali.
Mr.Greenidge: Mr. Speaker, can I just urge that our Colleagues stick to the truth. I made no such statement and if he ...[Interruption]. If he does not have anything to say let him find someone else to quote.
Mr. Speaker: Hon. Member, Mr. Ali was posing some questions. I do not know that he has deliberately said that you stated an untruth. Go ahead, Mr. Ali.
Mr. Ali: Yes, Mr. Speaker, that is a fundamental of debating. We are today enjoying in this country positive economic growth of 5.2%. This Hon. Minister of Finance has the distinction of sitting as the Minister with responsibility for the economy and overseeing our country growing consecutively for eight years with positive economic growth.
We must be responsible when we make public pronouncements, especially on television programmes. I was looking at a Spotlight programme and a Hon. Member referred to the Minster as an “accountant”. That Hon. Member was questioning the ability of this “accountant” in the preparation of the National Budget.
But this accountant, the Hon. Dr.Ashni Singh, has presided over eight consecutive years of economic growth. I would rather have an accountant,such as him, presenting my budget than an economist who took us to the poorest country in this hemisphere, any day.
Let us look at what the international community has to say. Guyana in 2013 is the highest in terms of our growth in the Caribbean, according to a 2013 report by Economic Commission of Latin American and the Caribbean(ECLAC). This is what that report,Economic andSocial Panoramic of the Community of Latin America and Caribbean State says:
“Based on this report Caribbean economies recorded the following growth rates for 2013: Jamaica – 0.1%, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Kitts, Nevis, Bahamas, Belize – 1.6%, St. Lucia – 1.1%, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda – 1.5%, Dominica - -0.5%, Barbados - -0.7%and Guyana – 5.2%.”
The Hon. Member Mr.Greenidge questioned our numbers. Inflation is 0.9%, but what is the justification for his questioning? Where is your alternative analysis? Where are your numbers? Where is your analysis? Where are your reports? What are you referring to, Hon. Member? We are referring to international reports, independent reports and the national reports generated by the competent professional staff that work in the public service.
Another important area that the ECLAC report alluded to earlier was the growth in domestic credit. In that context this is what the report had to say.
“The growth in domestic credit surpasses other countries in the Caribbean. During 2013, domestic credit in Guyana expanded by 24.2% compared to St. Kitts and Nevis at 23.4%. Trinidad and Tobago – -12.1%, Belize – -0.8%, Antigua and Barbuda –-6.8%, Bahamas – 1.7%, Jamaica – 17.7%.
This is the type of economic performance that should make all of us, as Guyanese, proud, that should make us happy, that should make us understand that we live in a country which is progressing, a country that is improving, a country that creating wealth, but what do we see? Let me take you to what we see.
I want to outline some of the headlines in regional newspapers – “Bajans taken for a ride”
(Nation News, February 6, 2014)
;“The Bajan Government is borrowing 14 million per month to pay 7,000 casual workers”;“Puerto Rico slided towards insolvency”(Reuters, March 15, 2013);“St. Lucia PM calls for reduction in Government spending because it does not have the resources”(Caribbean News: April 27, 2013); “Wage freezewould go beyond 2017”(Jamaica Observer, March 10, 2014);“Grenada Government unable to pay arrears to public servants””(Guardian, March 1, 2014).
This is what the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago had to say “Build homes, create jobs”(Trinidad Express, May 4th, 2011). What does that remind you of,Mr. Speaker? What does that tell you about? It reminds you about this Government that would have created infrastructure for 30,000 new homes in the last four years alone. This is what the Prime Minister had to say, “30,000 people in the construction sector are currently jobless”. The Prime Minister went on, “The Central Bank Governor is saying that the Government needs to spend; the Government needs to invest in infrastructure, and as we do that we create jobs and as we create jobs that goes into the multiplying effect that stimulates the economy.”
Hear what the Hon. Member Mr.Greenidgewas saying, “Size does not matter.”Well, the size matters; it is an old aged debate. If we do not have the size, in term of a fiscal space, we will not be able to invest in infrastructure, we will not be able to create jobs and we will not be able to create a wealth. It is basic economics.
In the construction sector, this is what the Hon. Prime Minister is saying, “I am advised that 30,000 people are unemployed and we have so many houses to build and we will build homes and we will provide these jobs.” We also want to send the same message. Here, in Guyana, we will build homes, we will build hospitals, we will build schools and we will build hydropower because we understand the importance of this for our economy. We are not going to live without understanding the basic elements of growth and development. We have a responsibility as a Government and we are going to ensure that we execute that responsibility in developing our people and our country.
I continue.The Trinidad Express on November 4,2010 reported,“24,700 Lose Jobs.”“Barbados job cut politics,” (Trinidad Express, December 17, 2013) – some 3,000 Government workers...”[Mr.Ramjattan:[Inaudible]... Marriott. You did not hear.Answer the lady.] I will answer every single question. Consequently, 3,000 Government workers are scheduled for retrenchment within the first quarter of 2014. This is in Barbados. We are talking about increases and in Barbados they are fighting to save jobs and employment and that is why the subsidies are so important because in this Government we are not going to preside over the destruction of jobs. We are going sustain jobs while we create new ones.
Let the Opposition point to one period of the stewardship under the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) Government when we lost 12,000 jobs, when we lost5,000 jobs, when we lost 200 jobs and they will find no evidence to support that. That tells the Opposition that we have run a tight shift here. When it comes to our economic performance... [Interruption]
An Hon. Member (Opposition): Why everybody is going away?
Ms.Shadick: So what! That is their choice.
Mr. Speaker: Minister Ali, it was a colleague in the back bench who provided an answer to one of the questions that I thought you should have answered – why people are leaving? That is what led to lull, so it was an interruption from this side.
Mr. Ali:As I am saying, when it comes to the management of our economy, the Hon. Minister of Financeis standing on solid rock.Contrary, when it comes to his legacy in the way that he managed the economy, the Hon. Member Greenidge is standing on sinking sand.
This is what they say in Trinidad “Residents want jobs through infrastructure”(Trinidad Express, July 27th, 2011).
Let us look at some of our local headlines. “Budget cuts delay hinterland development” (Kaieteur News, October 23, 2013) - this government providing money for hinterland development. Who cut the budget? It is not the Government. Who wants to create a better Guyana? It is this Government. Who wants to destroy that? It is the joint Opposition.
The second headline: “GINA begins staff rotation as budget cut bites”(newssource.com).
The third headline: “Muri Brazil pulls out... Opposition should stop playing games with project, gears towards economic development – Dr. Luncheon”(Kaieteur News, January 9, 2014).
“Investors’ confidence in Guyana under political attack – Dr. Luncheon warns(Guyana Chronicle, January 8, 2014);.
“Opposition continues to hold socioeconomic project to ransom”(Guyana Chronicle, July 19, 2013).
“Opposition cut to budgetary allocation for specialty hospital, mind-boggling”(Guyana Chronicle April 24, 2013).
These are some of the headlines that our brothers and sisters in the Caribbean are reading about us. Do you know what they are saying? They are saying what is wrong with those people. We want those investments and we want those projects. Why are they denying the people of Guyana those projects?
Let us look at the issue of job creation and I will give a few examples. The Amaila Falls Hydropower Project:This project will save consumers US$3.5 billion over 20 years; this project will reduce our fuel import bill by 25%;it would add six cumulative points to our GDP; it will allow the generation of energy through 100% renewable; it would create thousands of jobs, thousands of new business, thousands of new industries in the manufacturing sector.Guess what,Mr. Speaker? This Opposition,which cries so loud that it cares about job creation, has blocked this project.
Let us look at the CheddiJaganInternational Airport (CJIA)expansion. This is another project that will create new opportunities, new jobs, expand our economy, and guess what? This Opposition blocked that project. How can this Opposition present the moral authority to speak on job creations when the fundamental investments, which are being made by this Government to create those opportunities, are being denied? Do you know why they are being denied? They are being denied because of the combined power of one. [Mr.Ramjattan: That will be cut. Do not bother with him.] That is the attitude. The leading Member of the Alliance ForChange (AFC) is saying, “Do not bother with him that will be cut”. The debate, and the facts that we present here, does not matter to him. It does not matter to him.
Let us look at the investment in the industrial development. An investment of $200 million is earmarked for the Belvidere industrial site and the Lethem industrial site. Let me take you through the mathematical scenario, the economics.
In Belvidere, 21 new plots will be available. [Brigadier (Ret’d) Granger: Belvidere, where is it?] The Hon. Member does not even know where Belvidere is. That is how lost they are over there. How can they represent the people when they do not even know where their communities are?I am shocked.This Hon. Member served in the army at the highest level and does know where Belvidere is. [Interruption from the Opposition Members.]
Mr. Speaker, I notice that you are offering no protection.
Mr. Speaker: You seem to be revelling in what is going on. I notice that the Minister of Finance seems to be directing an orchestra and every time his hands go like this Mr.Neendkumar’s voicegoes up. You seem to be in good hands. Go ahead.
Mr. Ali:Mr. Speaker, I have no problem. I can handle any level of roughness that comes my way. I was just pointing it out to you.
Mr. Speaker, if you look at an average investment of $18 million on every plot at Belvidere you will see that in that one initiative $378 million will be spent. On an average, if 20 persons are employed for each development 420 direct new jobs will be created during construction. When this industrial estate is completed it will create approximately 525 new direct jobs for the people in Belvidere and Region 6. This is economic expansion; this is diversification; this is creation of wealth and this definitely is a budget that brings betterment for all Guyanese.
Let us look at Lethem. In Lethem, we will invest $180 million for 140 plots. We assume, based on the proposals, that an average of $24 million will be invested in each plot. That would mean that private investment would be in excess of $3.3 billion in Lethem. This will create direct employment for 2,800 persons. Let us assume that an average employee earns $50,000. Thiswould mean that in Lethem we would be able to generate, in that economy, $174 million every month.
Let us look at some of the impacts, in terms of our social expenditure. The Hon. Member Mr.Greenidge asked where the impacts are and what the measurement is, and I wish to point to some of that.
Extreme poverty, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), has reduced. It has reduced from where you left it, Hon. Member, and it has reduced substantially from where you left it.
Guyana has achieved the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) relating to nutrition, child health, eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and universal primary education.This is where the investments went. The Hon. Member asked for impacts and I am giving him the impacts.
The Human Development Indexrosefrom 0.06 in 2000 to 0.633 in 2011. You want to know about impact?Guyana is now categorised as medium human development country - impact Hon. Member.
Infant mortality in 1999 was 25.6 per 1,000; today it is 12.9% - impact. Under 5 year old mortality in 1999 was 26 per 1, 000 now it is 15 per 1,000 - impact. For1989 we could not have found the statistics.
Improvement in number of physicians and nurses:in 1999 it was 2.6, in 2013 it is 9.5. Number of nurses per 10,000 population, in 1999 was 8.6, today it is 15.3 - impact. [Lt. Col. (Ret’dHarmon: Everything else is bogus.] That is what the Opposition is reducing this budget to, unsubstantiated statements riddled with inaccuracies.
Let us look at another measure in the budget. Let us look at the Rural Development Fund. In this fund $1billion... [Mr.Nagamootoo: [Inaudible]...slush...]the Hon. Member Mr.Nagamootoo referred to this as a slush fund. I find this insulting. Mr. Speaker, you cannot refer to funds set aside for single parents, vulnerable groups and people who need these funds for their existence as slush funds. That is insulting. It is insulting for any Member in this House to refer to funds such as this as a slush fund. We must stay away from such irresponsibility. This $1 billion fund... If we look at the Institute of Private Enterprise Development (IPED)investment to employment ratio which is $282,000 creates one new employment, then this $1 billion would create approximately 3,546 new jobs.
Mr. Speaker: Hon. Minister, your time is up. You will require an extension please.
Mr. Hinds:Mr. Speaker, I move that the Hon. Minister be given 15 minutes to continue his presentation.
Question put, and agreed to.
Mr. Ali:Mr. Speaker, doyou want to know where the money is going? I will tell you. If we spend $100 million inLeguan and there are 3,300 persons in Leguan, let us assume that a household size is four. This means there are 825 households. If we are to divide an investment of $100 million by the household it would mean that we would be investing $121,000 per household.
If we take this down further. For every 2.3 household in Leguan we would be creating one new job. This would mean that in Leguan... [Mr.Nagamootoo: For what? For cutting grass?]I wish to tell the Hon. Member the people in Leguan must not be reduced to cutting grass. They are hard-working rice farmers. The Hon. Member Mr.Nagamootoo must apologise to the people of Leguan. [Interruption]
Mr. Speaker: Hon. Member Mr. Ali, we will take all of those demands outside this chamber. You will deal with that on the campaign hustings. We are not going to use words such as “nonsense”, and so forth. Let us go ahead.
Ms.Shadick: I beg to put in my two cents here. I am a native ofLeguan and I take offence at the Hon. Member Mr.Nagamootoo making fun of the people of Leguan. I do not know if he has ever been there but I think what he has done was crossed the river and has gone to the court to collect the people’s money. Do not go back.
Mr. Speaker:Ms.Shadick. Hon. Members...[Interruption]
Ms.Shadick: You need to apologise to the people of Leguan.
Ms.Shadick:Mr. Speaker, he needs to apologise.
Mr. Speaker: One second, please, Ms.Shadick. When I was asked by Hon. Minister Mr. Benn, if I am going to prohibiting heckling, it would have appeared that the House wanted the right to heckle. If a Member feels slighted or offended that is the basis on which we function in this House. We have to have thick skins. If you are offended by Mr.Nagamootoo because of something that he said during heckling then you take it up with him outside of the House. If it is something, as I have said, that goes to a person personally, that person family or so...[Interruption] If a Member says something about the people of Berbice, I am a Berbician, I may be offended but that person will stand or fall by his or her statements at the next campaign, but we will proceed with this debate. We will proceed.
Mr. Ali: This investment will create 355 new jobs in Leguan. If we assume that the average income of each new employment is $60,000 per month, then in Leguan we would be creating $21.3 million every month on that island.
It is new money to the economy. This would mean that for the year, we will be creating new wealth in Leguan to the value of $255.6 million per annum. This will be transposed to many other communities across this country. It is not whether we intend to do it; we, on this side of the House, are going to do it!
Let us look at the water sector. There is a proposed spending in the water sector of $2.5 billion. The budget has provided for the water sector $2.5 billion. Some $1.135 billion is allocated to coastal programme. That would mean that this Government would be investing $9,000 dollars on behalf of every citizen on the coast to improve the water situation. In Linden, we will be spending $627 million. That is a per capita investment of $30,000. In the hinterland, we will be spending $190 million. That is a per capita investment of $31,000. In Georgetown, we will be spending $600 million, a per capita investment of $11,000.
What will be the output of these investments? We will have five new wells, construction of two new water treatment plants, 12,000 new connections and the upgrade of 6,000 existing connections.
What, then, would be the impact of the output? The impact to the economy will be as follows: the creation of direct investment of $2.9 billionandvalue-added impact of $1.3 billion. The total impact is estimated at $4.2 billion. Some 20,000 persons would benefit from new service connections. Demand will be created for 5,500 sacks of cement. Demand will be created for 1,600 loads of sand. Demand will be created for 3,470 cubic metres of stone. Demand will be created for 3,000 metres of timber. Demand will be created for 22,000 lengths of pipes. Demand will be created for 2,200 pipe fittings. Treated water coverage will move from 49% to 65%. Are these not impacts we should all laud?
Who will benefit from the demand for sand? The trucks, sand pit operators and the labourers will benefit. Who will benefit from the production of pipe? The engineers and the mechanics will benefit. Ultimately, our Guyanese brothers and sisters will be the beneficiaries of Budget 2014.
Let us look at housing. Some 5,900 house lots are to be distributed. There will be the upgrade of 45 kilometres of existing roads in 36 villages such as Sophia, Barnwell, Diamond, Enmore, Eccles and Grove. There will be the construction of 176 core homes. There will be construction of 100 single flat homes. There will be distribution of 134 subsidies to low income families. There will be distribution of 54 subsidies for hinterland families. Some 71 low income families will benefit from improved sanitation. These are the types of investments that will ensure a better quality of life for our Guyanese brothers and sisters all across Guyana.
What will be the impact? The proposed spending will result in direct investment in our economy of $4.4 billion with value added impact of $1.98 billion. Total spending would be in excess of $6.38 billion. There will be the creation of direct employment for more than 1,700 persons with various skills, including engineering, architecture, surveying, foremen, operators, driving, masonry, carpentry, plumbing and electrical works. This is what the Hon. Prime Minister of Trinidad is trying to get her Government to do. We are doing it here and we should be proud of doing it.
Mr. Speaker: Incidentally, Sir, she has just dismissed another minister within her Cabinet. It happened a few minutes ago.
Mr. Ali: Mr. Speaker, as you are aware, the Ministers in this People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government are of high conduct and excellent performance. We are not reckless; we will never be reckless. [Interruption]
Mr. Speaker: Order! Order! Hon. Members, please. We need the Minister to compose himself and be able to complete his presentation. Take your time, Minister. Your time will not be diminished. If the House takes five minutes to settle down, you will get an extra five minutes.
Mr. Ali: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
In 2013, Guyana was featured in regional and international publications such as Caribbean Beat, Zing Magazine, 16 birding publications, including Cox & Kings and the Guardian UK.
Mr. Speaker: The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), two weeks ago, also said that this is one of the best destinations to come to.
Mr. Ali: Mr. Speaker, thank you very much for making that very important point. We have been featured in Fortune 500 Magazine which reaches over five million people. We have been featured in documentaries and other magazines which reach more than 15 million people globally and we should be proud of that. [An Hon. Member: [Inaudible]drugs...] I will tell you. Patience. Gold Rush, which was voted the number one most watched show in American in 2012, did its entire 10 episodes in Guyana. Do you know what? That investment was in excess of $2 billion. In 2014, Guyana is being referred to as the best kept secret in South America by the prestigious National Geographic Traveler Magazine and is among the 20 destinations being touted to visit in 2014. The list reflects what is authentic culturally rich sustainable and...
In 2013, there was a 135% increase in the number of yachts that came to Guyana. [Ms. Ally: Time.] Is this how we are treating the tourism sector? When we are outlining our plans, the Comrade is calling on time. When we speak about tourism, time should not limit us. In 2014, we already had one cruise ship. By the end of this year, we expect another three cruise ships.
In 2013, total investment in the tourism sector was $53,905,000,000 and I want to congratulate the private sector of Guyana and all those foreign investors for investing over $53.9 billion in the tourism sector. Some 18 tourism projects were completed. The total jobs created were 626. In 2014, the total value of investment in the sector is projected at $70 billion with 30 new projects. This will create a further 300 new jobs in the tourism sector.
Four new hotels were completed in 2013. In addition to the Marriott, we can now boast of Park Vue Hotel, Millennium Manor Hotel, Aruwi Enterprise Enterprise and Rupununi Eco-Hotel. The hotels have approximately 399 rooms and at two persons being responsible for a room, we are talking of more than 1,000 new jobs being created in the tourism sector.
Mr. Speaker: Sir, you have five minutes within which to conclude your presentation.
Mr. Ali: I want to touch briefly on the issue of sugar. There has been a lot of debate concerning this important, national issue. We, in this Government, would never ever contemplate any system that would see the destruction of jobs and that would see the destruction of our industry. The Hon. Member, Carl Greenidge, referred to his period and what the Government did then. Just for the records, I want to remind the Hon. Member what occurred. Could you remember when we had an estate in Diamond? Hon. Member, who closed that estate? Could you remember when we had an estate in Leonora? Hon. Member, who closed that estate? Hon. Speaker, could you remember when we had an estate in Versailles? Who closed that estate? There is one name that is constant in the question as to who closed those sugar estates and it is the Hon. Carl Barrington Greenidge.
Mr.Greenidge: Mr. Speaker, I believe that the speaker is fabricating information. Which estates have been closed in this country and which ones have I been associated with? I am not aware of having closed any so I do not know what he is talking about. I am saying that he is making it up. That is what I am saying.
Mr. Speaker: Hon. Mr. Ali, you stated that one name is associated with the closure of all these estates and that name is Carl Greenidge. The Member, rightfully, has challenged that unless you can show that he presided over, directed or authorised the closure of these estates, I believe you will need to reword that or withdraw it.
Mr. Ali: Mr. Speaker, I always follow your advice. The Hon. Member, indeed, said that he was part of that government and he was part of the system and government at that time.
Mr. Speaker: That formulation is acceptable.
Mr. Ali: For us, the investment in the sugar industry is critical to sustaining 18,000 families. The investment in the sugar industry would secure the livelihood of 74,000 people. The investment in the sugar industry would secure the livelihood of 120,000 people indirectly. The 194,000 people who benefit directly and indirectly from this sector must be supported and deserve every single cent of subsidy that we are putting in the sugar industry. We understand the importance of this sector. We are not saying that we must not look at the industry in a holistic manner, but we must allow mechanisms which are there to function. We cannot want to jump to the media when we have an avenue through the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Economic Services. On many occasions, the matter of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) came before that Committee. We have a responsibility to air our views there.
Mr.Greenidge: Which many occasion? I am not aware of it coming before the Committee. When is he speaking about, Mr. Speaker?
Mr. Speaker: Mr.Greenidge, that would not be a valid point of order. I believe what the Member is saying is that many of the matters that are being discussed in public could be brought for consideration by the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Economic Services. That is what my understanding was. It was that many of the matters being discussed on the outside of this House could be brought before the Committee.
Mr. Ali: Mr. Speaker, you have interpreted me correctly.
Mr. Speaker: Let me hear Mr.Greenidge.
Mr.Greenidge: I do not want to challenge you, Mr. Speaker. Let me just say that I heard him say that these matters had been brought to the Committee. I am on that Committee and these matters have not been brought there. [Interruption]
Mr. Speaker: Hon. Members, could I be heard? Mr.Greenidge is right in a sense. Are you speaking about this Tenth Parliament? I believe Mr.Greenidge would be right in that sense. If so, please qualify, Mr. Minister.
Mr. Ali: In the Ninth Parliament, I was also a Member of that Committee and it was brought many times before that Committee.
Mr. Speaker: Very well. You have qualified it. Thank you.
Mr. Ali: It is important for us to send a positive message to our population. It is important for us to let the people in the sugar sector understand that we, in the National Assembly, would support their interests. We must let them understand that we will make the necessary intervention that would secure the industry and, in turn, secure their jobs. That is a moral responsibility we, in this National Assembly, have.
I conclude by saying that the Hon. Dr.Ashni Singh and his team at the Ministry of Finance have presented to this nation, have presented to our brothers and sisters out here, have presented to the people of Guyana, a budget that would, indeed, make Guyana a better place, make our lives better and make our people’s lives better. In so doing, I not only commend the Budget and the Hon. Minister, but I can see the impact of the Budget. It even silenced the Hon. Carl Greenidge. He did not have much to say about the Budget. He strayed from the Budget but I hope when the time comes for him to support the interventions for our people, he would not stray away and vote against them; I hope he will support those interventions.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. [Applause]
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