‘Emergency budget’ being prepared

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The Government of Guyana is working on an emergency National Budget to be introduced this month to address critical issues in a timely manner.

The country has been operating without a 2020 budget.

President Irfaan Ali on Tuesday evening told the media that the budget will cover the new Government’s immediate plans and programs and will be followed by a larger budget later in the year.

“At the moment we are working on what I would term an “emergency budget, a budget that we have to go do quickly…[to] deal with the immediate issues including the programme for the $4.5B to help at the household level in terms of the COVID pandemic,” President Ali said at the sidelines during his attendance at the celebration of Krishna Janmashtami at the Crane Hare Krishna Temple on the West Coast of Demerara.

President Ali had announced a $4.5B relief package for persons affected by the deadly COVID-19 pandemic; this money he said was already secured from international partners.

In an effort to complete the ‘emergency budget’ for it to be tabled in the National Assembly, the newly installed government has asked the technical staff at the Ministry of Finance to fast-track the process.

“We’ve asked all the technical staff to cut those timelines by 75% because we need to get to that budget, people are suffering, we need to get to the various sectors and we need to bring relief,” President Ali said.

Parliament is expected to reconvene in two weeks.

However, President Ali noted that there are some issues which are being sorted including the need to institute COVID-19 guidelines during the sittings in the 65-member assembly.

“There are some aspects other than convening Parliament too that has to do with COVID-19 and the arrangements that have to put in place… But we have to convene Parliament…and go through the steps to get the budget,” he explained.

“We’re looking to move on these things very quickly because things are at a standstill, it’s not good for the country, it’s not good for business, it’s not good for the citizens so we’re going to move quite aggressively like this,” the President added.

He noted that the Bank of Guyana is also working on a package to help persons and small businesses who have outstanding loans.

Further, the Government has reached out to the Organisation of Islamic Conference, the Interim Development Bank (IDB), the United States (US), Canada, India and CARICOM among others.

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