No fear of ‘big things, mega projects’ – Edghill hails budget as ‘realistic, futuristic’
With the largest sectoral allocation in the 2022 National Budget going towards infrastructure at $76 billion for roads and bridges, subject Minister Juan Edghill Thursday said the allocation was “altruistic, realistic and futuristic.”
The National Assembly came alive and was transformed to a church-like atmosphere as Members of Parliament banged desks and shouted ‘amen’ as the Edghill delivered an evangelistic-like presentation.
The Public Works Minister told the House that the $552.9 fiscal plan is supported by a vision and will be remembered as the budget that laid the foundation for modern Guyana.
“A Guyana that is the brightest spot in this hemisphere and globally.”
Edghill, in response to opposition Parliamentarian Sherod Duncan who spoke before him, asserted that the development coming to Guyana will be equitably distributed.
“It is not for one of us, not for some of us, not even for the best of us…it is for all of us,” Edghill added.
But Duncan claimed that the budget did not address the welfare of the ordinary people and said “you can’t eat roads.”
Edghill agreed and said, “but without roads you can’t eat.”
The Public Works Minister said the Opposition is frightened by the development the ruling People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) was pushing ahead with.
“…but we are not afraid of big things and mega projects… there are different types of phobias… there is megalophobia – people who are afraid of big things – and that aptly describes those in the Opposition,” Edghill said.
According to him, the APNU+AFC is afraid of large projects, never pursuing any while in government and sabotaging those pursed by the PPP.
“Every time something big is discussed, they get scared,” Edghill said as he recalled their reaction to the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project and the Gas-to-Shore project.
“It’s too big for them to understand.
“You expect the Irfaan Ali government to be sleeping in this summer moment? The answer is no.”
In the 2022 budget, some $49.2 billion will go to roads and $27.5 billion to be spent on bridges.
In relation to roads, key allocations include provisions of $8.3 billion for the rehabilitation of the Corentyne Main Road from Palmyra to Crabwood Creek; $6 billion for the construction of the Linden-Mabura Hill Road and $3.4 billion for hinterland roads.
Additionally, $2.6 billion has been set aside for the rehabilitation of the entire Soesdyke-Linden Highway; $2.3 billion for the East Bank-East Coast Demerara Road Linkage between Ogle and Eccles; $1.1 billion to complete the Sheriff Street – Mandela Road Network and Expansion Project.
Also, some $15.2 billion is allocated for the construction and rehabilitation of additional urban and community roads.
Construction of the four-lane Ogle to Haags Bosch road will also commence shortly, creating another road access which will further reduce the current traffic chaos and congestion along the East Bank corridor.
Further, works will also commence to widen and pave the East Bank Highway from Grove to Timehri for which $2.1 billion is allocated in 2022.
Meanwhile, preparatory work has also been initiated in relation to the widening of the East Coast highway from Annandale to Mahaica, the upgrade of the railway embankment from Sheriff Street to Orange Nassau, and the construction of the new four-lane superhighway from Schoonord to Parika.
With respect to bridges, $21.1 billion is allocated to advance construction of the new, fixed four-lane high span Demerara River Bridge, while $946 million has been budgeted to rehabilitate and maintain the aged existing floating bridge.
Additionally, $4.1 billion is allocated for the re-construction of several bridges along the Kurupukari to Lethem corridor that will support the phased construction of the Linden to Lethem highway.
To address the critical needs of bridges across the country, another $173.9 million is budgeted for the construction, rehabilitation and maintenance of bridges in areas including Garden of Eden, Chateau Margot, Beterverwagting, and Cemetery Road.