Minister within the Ministry of Public Works Deodat Indar rebuffed the Opposition’s argument that the 2022 National Budget was one centered on Guyana’s private sector and deemed it “weak.”
As the budget debates continued on Wednesday in the National Assembly, Minister Indar did not shy away from acknowledging that the budget contained measures to aid the private sector. But he explained that these measures were needed as the private sector provides employment for 65 per cent of Guyana’s working population while the public sector employs some 57,000 people.
“Out of 251,000 jobs, 163,047 were created by the private sector, so if you have a budget that does not address those 163,000 workers and companies they work for, then the budget is a misfit,” Minister Indar argued.
“This budget that we put together…creates jobs and expands the private sector…so to say it is a private sector budget is a weak argument.”
According to Minister Indar, the private sector contributes some $27.5 billion on import duties, some $26.3 billion on Value Added Tax (VAT) on imports and more than $40 billion on excise tax imports.
Moreover, the minister said that private companies also contribute more than $80 billion in income taxes. Those revenues accrued, the minister stressed, are used to fashion the budget. And the 2022 budget he said, is one that “reflects every aspect of society’s needs and addresses them.”
This was in direct response to Opposition MP Vinceroy Jordan who posited that the budget will only benefit “one class of people” while the ordinary citizens are left out in the cold.
“So, the argument again, that [the budget] is for the big boys, it is weak, weak at best,” Indar told the House.
A large chunk of the $552.9 billion budget has been allocated to transform Guyana’s infrastructure and this, according to Indar, will provide reliable energy, better roads and bridges and improved air and water travel to directly benefit all citizens, not just the private sector.
He highlighted that with $29.5 billion allocated to Guyana’s energy sector, the government’s touted reduction of electricity costs by 50 per cent will be realized. From that, some $20.8 billion will be going towards the construction of the Gas-to-Shore project which will see 300 MW of power being supplied to the grid.
Another major project he highlighted is the construction of the new four-lane high span Demerara Harbour Bridge where some $21.1 billion will be set aside to advance works.
“This bridge is not just fixing travel problems; it is fixing other social problems. This bridge is a big thing for our government and we are getting it done.”
Both projects, according to Indar, will create much-needed jobs and spur economic activity.