The National Assembly on Monday approved $47 billion in supplementary funding requested by the government, to offset costs incurred during the year and paving the way for urgent and critical needs to be met for the rest of the year.
Throughout the day, lawmakers debated the sectoral allocations with members of government defending the requests for additional funding.
Offsetting the exorbitant increase in fuel prices, thereby bringing relief to regional electricity companies and consumers, was among the key priorities of the government.
Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh explained that $6.6 billion in support was requested for arrears owed to the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) because the government committed to absorbing costs so that people’s electricity bills would not increase.
“… GPL is carrying the cost of imported fuel that is dramatically more expensive than 12 months ago and we have taken a position as a government that we will not pass onto consumers the increased fuel cost that is being borne by GPL,” he said.
Additionally, $1.3 billion was requested to support several regional electricity companies and another $1.7 billion specifically for the Linden Electricity Company.
These sums, alongside other supplementary funding for various sectors, were approved.
The following press release from the Ministry of Finance summarises the funds allocated:
Supplementary allocations totaling over $47 billion for support to various major sectors including transport infrastructure, energy and security were today secured when Senior Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh successfully piloted the Supplementary Appropriation Act, Number 2 of 2022.
The Supplementary Appropriation Act comprising Financial Papers Numbers 2 and 3 of 2022 and totalling $2.9 billion and $44.4 Billion respectively were presented by the Minister on November 30, 2022, after which they were meticulously scrutinized and debated, with the Opposition A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) posing a number of questions before the Motion was passed on Monday.
As Government continues to aggressively implement its transformative development agenda, funding was secured for a number of key development interventions. Provisions totalling $2.9 billion Contingency Fund advances for the period August 15–November 29, 2022 in Financial Paper Number 2 include $740 million to conduct urgent drainage works including rehabilitation of drainage channels, access bridges, revetments and dams along with the installation of stainless steel sluice doors in Regions 2 to 7 including Georgetown. Also included in this paper is $1.7 billion of additional resources for the Linden Electricity Company Inc.
As Guyana continues to be a global leader in the fight against climate change, $360 million was provided for the payment of the issuance fee for forest carbon credits under the Architecture for REDD+ Transactions (ART) TREES programme for the period 2016-2020. It was only on Friday last that Guyana became the first country in the world to be issued with carbon credits for forest protection when ART issued the world’s first TREES credits to Guyana. It marked a historic milestone for the country making it the first time a country has been issued carbon credits specifically designed for the voluntary and compliance carbon markets for successfully preventing forest loss and degradation — a process known as jurisdictional REDD+. This occurred following the completion of an independent validation and verification process and approval by the ART Board of Directors. ART issued 33.47 million TREES credits to Guyana for the five-year period from 2016 to 2020. Then, on Friday last as well the Government of Guyana signed an agreement with Hess Corporation, a global oil and gas firm, with HESS committing to purchasing a minimum of US$750 million in carbon credits from Guyana with respect to the period 2016 to 2030.
With respect to Financial Paper No 3 of 2022, $44.4 Billion was approved. This included supplementary funding of close to $1.4 billion under the Office of the Prime Minister for provision of additional resources to support electricity companies in Linden, Lethem, Mabaruma, Kwakwani, Port Kaituma, Mahdia, and Matthew’s Ridge. Also significant in the Supplementary provisions is $6.6 billion for the provision of additional resources for the payment of electricity arrears to the Guyana Power and Light Incorporated (GPL). Back in March, 2022, President Ali had committed that the government would absorb the impact of rising fuel prices on the cost of services provided by electricity companies so that it does not translate into high electricity bills for the Guyanese people.
With respect to transport infrastructure, a priority area of Government, $18.2 billion was provided under the Ministry of Public Works for the provision of additional resources to facilitate the upgrading of roads and drains in various communities and $938.2 million for additional inflows under the Caribbean Development Bank’s programme to facilitate advancement of civil works on the Linden to Mabura Road Project.
With the ultimate goal of providing 100 percent water coverage for Amerindian Villages across the county by 2025, an additional $275.9 million is provided to facilitate water supply interventions in hinterland areas and the procurement of a new drilling rig.
Under the area of security, a sector which is of vital importance to the administration to ensure that the security sector is modernized to keep abreast with the modernization of the country, $371.1 million for the provision of additional resources to procure vehicles to boost the operational effectiveness of the Guyana Police Force under the Ministry of Home Affairs was also provided as part of the Supplementary Appropriation