The 2022 National Budget will allow the government to invest in crucial or priority developmental needs while keeping Guyana’s debt to a minimum, according to the Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh.
This budget will be presented to the National Assembly on Wednesday, after several months of rigorous planning.
While remaining tight-lipped on the major projects included in the budget, the Finance Minister assured Guyanese that the budget will be “transformational”, alluding to major investments in infrastructure, geared at modernising the “face of the country”.
“We are going to be able to address the most pressing developmental needs and we are going to be able to implement an aggressive development agenda while at the same time containing borrowing to an absolute minimum,” the Finance Minister said during a televised interview on Sunday via the state-owned National Communications Network.
As part of the budget planning process, Dr. Singh noted that consideration was given to the various challenges Guyana is grappling with.
The COVID-19 pandemic and its disruption of the global supply chain in addition to the country’s vulnerability to climate change, evidenced by the massive 2021 floods, are among those challenges considered.
Because these challenges affect lives and livelihoods, Dr. Singh emphasised that significant effort is needed to pursue a sustainable, long term development agenda.
“We want to make sure that we get these critical infrastructure in place, not just for purposes of current convenience… but it is also for the long term strength, resilience and competitiveness of the economy,” Dr. Singh posited.
Specifically, addressing the country’s vulnerability to flooding, he referenced President Dr. Irfaan Ali’s commitment to overseeing the construction of three more massive canals like the Hope Canal on the East Coast of Demerara (ECD).
As reported previously, these three new canals will be major investments. Once approved, these canals will be constructed in Regions Three, Five and Six and are expected to provide a similar level of flood- relief as the Hope Canal has.
“A strong element of Budget 2022 will also be about creating opportunities for Guyanese businesses and nationals,” he said too.
These opportunities, he later explained, include the creation of jobs and avenues for heightened entrepreneurial activity. The could include an increased focus on agriculture.
Dr. Singh noted that the government has a well-known, ambitious development agenda but he also acknowledged that sourcing the money to fund that agenda is crucial.
Already, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo announced that the 2022 budget will be financed in part by Guyana’s oil profits, saved in the Natural Resource Fund (NRF).
This is the first year that the government will be able to tap into that revenue which has grown to more than US$600 million since oil production started in December 2019.
The Finance Minister, however, assured Guyanese that there will not be a total dependence on exploiting Guyana’s oil wealth. Instead, he said the government will be tapping into alternative sources of financing.
Explaining this, he said that the government will secure finances from domestic revenue sources (which includes taxes and other revenues it collects), external borrowing from international financing arrangements and borrowing from the local banks.
“… we are mindful of striking an optimal balance across those to ensure that we have an appropriate mix of financing
“What that allows us to do is be able to implement this accelerated agenda, to meet these urgent developmental needs while keeping borrowing at an absolute minimum,” Dr. Singh stated.