The 2020 National Budget debates today began at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC).
Minister within the Ministry of Public Works Deodat Indar said the 2020 Budget “the world is seeing that this budget is a budget to help people. What is in this budget in one year, gives back to the people that you [the APNU+AFC] have taken away for five years.”
He was at the time responding to APNU+AFC’s Shurwayne Holder who said in his statement moments earlier that the budget gives crumbs to the poor people.
“This budget is not a plan for prosperity but instead, it is their plan to punish we,” Holder concluded in his maiden speech in the National Assembly.
However, Deodat defended the budget pointing to measures he said are “pro poor” which reduces the cost of living. These include the reversal of VAT on electricity and water and the increase in disposable income by directly providing $25,000 per household through $4.5B in the Budget.
He also pointed to the removal of tax on education, healthcare, mining and agriculture equipment along with the provision of $15,000 per child grant.
Indar also responded comments that the Budget is more focused on the private sector noting that “we believe the private sector is the engine of growth, the private sector creates jobs for our brothers and sisters throughout the country.”
For the infrastructure sector, Government has budgeted $34.4 billion.
The Minister highlighted several challenges faced by the Government on assuming office but noted that there are major transformation projects coming onstream. Among those initiatives to be completed is the reduction of blackout using a mix of hydropower, solar and wind.
In relation to transport networks, he said the PPP/C Government has commenced numerous transformational projects including the Cheddi Jagan Airport (CJIA) expansion project, the East Coast road expansion project, the first leg of the Linden to Lethem, the Ogle to Diamond by-pass road and the Demerara Harbour Bridge which will be completed.
In relation to river transport, he said there will be the award of the construction of an ocean-going ferry to ply the Parika to Region One route. This would benefit from an Indian Government grant of US$8 million, and a low-cost interest loan of US$10 million.