Budget 2021 meets the needs of women, vulnerable groups – Dr Persaud

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Though efforts are being made to effectively manage Guyana’s economic development, Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr Vindhya Persaud stressed that the 2021 National Budget illustrates a concerted focus on also meeting the needs of women and other vulnerable groups.

During the second day of the Budget Debates in the National Assembly, the minister said that the government has a “laser focus” on supporting women, children, the elderly, young people and persons with disabilities (PWDs).

In keeping with this mandate, she highlighted that $80 million has been directed towards the training of women, to enable them to create their own jobs and provide for themselves and their families.

Areas of training will include interior and fashion design, child and elderly care, business and enterprise development, graphics designing, and Information and Communication Technology (ICT). And, the training will take place at the Guyana Women’s Leadership Institute, which will receive a ‘facelift’ to the tune of $20 million.

But beyond just training, this institute is expected to have the first business incubator that will be providing training in microenterprise development, improving products and skills and linkage to market opportunities, directly to women.

On International Women’s Day, next month, the minister highlighted that women will also be given the opportunity to pitch business ideas and vie for 10 grants. This, she explained, is all part of the efforts geared at creating independent women.

“Training of women will give them the impetus that they need to move to a state of independence from a state of dependence, to move from skills training into the world of work, vocational training,” Dr. Persaud reasoned.

Additionally, a sum of $30 million will go towards constructing a modern building at the Mahaica hospital to train PWDs, $50 million has been allocated to the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities and $120 million has been directed towards vocational training, prosthetics and equipment for PWDs.

In the recently presented National Budget, key budgetary measures included raising the Public Assistance from $9,000 to $12,000 and the Old Age pension from $21,500 to $25,000. These measures, the minister posited, place money directly into the hands of citizens and the increase in disposable income will help stimulate the local economy once spent.

Of the sum allocated to this ministry, $26.2 billion will be spent on current expenditures while $3.3 billion will be spent on capital expenditures.

While defending the budget, the minister said, “When we look at all of these measures, we must not look at them in isolation but at the cumulative effect. These are cumulative benefits for people across the length and breadth of this country.”

She also noted, “We do not believe in wild, wanton, reckless expenditure. All of what we are doing is geared towards ensuring people experience a better quality of life.”

During her presentation, Dr Persaud also lamented the widespread violence and noted that her ministry has taken steps to ensure that this “entrenched” societal ill can be combated.  She reminded that after only a few months in office, a 914 hotline was launched. This hotline, she said, would not only benefit vulnerable women but children and men as well.

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