Funding for infrastructure that will both improve the country’s current situation and plan for the future has been placed high on the agenda in the 2022 National Budget, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo has announced.
Just hours after it was disclosed on Friday that the budget will be presented to the country on January 26, Jagdeo in a televised interview said the government was keen to balance the spending for now and future welfare.
The Vice President promised new highways and roads, investments in energy and information and communication technology with efforts to make businesses more competitive and generate more jobs for citizens.
“We have spoken about that framework of ensuring infrastructure for future growth… that will be one of the dominate areas in the budget,” Jagdeo said.
He later added, “Many people believe we should spend every cent on consuming but you can’t do that. We are balancing spending on oneself now and future welfare.”
The Vice President said the trend of reducing taxes which was done in the two budgets will continue. This is the ruling People’s Progressive Party third budget since it returned to office eighteen months ago, in August 2020.
The Vice President said the government had a vision for the country coupled with its focus on delivering on its manifesto promises.
Importantly, Jagdeo confirmed in the clearest terms yet that the 2022 budget will be financed in part by Guyana’s oil profits. This is the first year that the government will be able to tap into that revenue which has grown to US$600 million in the last five years.
The Vice President did not say what would be the size of the withdrawal from the Natural Resource Fund (NRF) but assured that the oil money will help reduce the previous resort to borrowing.
“I don’t want to get complex with it… the fiscal deficit in this budget would be lower… that means we’d have to borrow less because some of the oil-and-gas revenue will go to replace the high level of borrowing that we have had,” Dr. Jagdeo said.
Jagdeo reminded that the use of oil money will go through the parliamentary process for approval, saying it makes better sense to use the oil revenue instead of increasing debt, a situation he described as unsustainable.
When the budget is read next Wednesday, more details will be released on the government’s policy direction for the next year.
“I don’t want to lay it out here because it is multi-faceted across the country.”
Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh, over the last several months, has been meeting and consulting with various stakeholders including government ministries, private sector and other agencies as preparations continued for the new budget.
This budget is expected to comprise a number of critical developmental programmes and projects which will catapult the government’s agenda and take the country forward, the Ministry of Finance said Friday in a statement.