With the 2021 National Budget passed in the National Assembly on Thursday, Senior Minister with responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh says all government agencies and ministries must now change gears to ensure that the initiatives, measures and projects outlined in the fiscal plan are implemented.
The minister said his expectation is that the projects and programmes will be implemented swiftly and with the highest level of effectiveness. Despite initial disruptions from the opposition APNU+AFC Coalition, Dr. Singh said he was satisfied that the budget was eventually passed and now the government can proceed with its implementation.
“Now that the budget is approved, the priority now is to ensure that all projects and initiatives proceed to implementation… it must be done in a timely manner as possible,” he said on Thursday during a press conference moments after the approval of the $353.8 billion budget.
The budget was approved to the tune of $353.8 billion although it was initially read for $383.1 billion. The remaining $29.2 billion was excluded but is chargeable by law, as detailed and summarised in the schedule. A large part of that $29.2 billion will be used to service debts but does not need to be included in the Appropriation Bill.
Dr. Singh said the work to implement the budget begins immediately. “That work really begins from today,” he added.
He said it was an amalgamation of efforts by several organisations and stakeholders who were consulted and submitted proposals.
“The budget is informed by a rich consultative process which ensured that it became the strong and comprehensive policy document that it is,” the minister added.
Dr. Singh, however, registered his disappointment that the APNU+AFC Coalition chose in the first instance to delay and stymie the consideration of the 2021 budget estimates and then withdrew altogether from the process.
“I want to say in the strongest possible terms that this is an extremely disappointing position that the APNU+AFC adopted for many reasons.”
Dr. Singh said Budget 2021 is important because it not only puts Guyanese back on their feet after the incidents of 2020, but it also allows for a full resumption of economic activity.
“It puts us on a path to recovery and ensures that in the longer term there is economic dynamism,” he concluded.