Budget 2023: More than ‘pigs and two black fowls’ – McCoy defends big spending

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Some concerns of reckless spending were levelled against the government following the presentation of the $781.9 billion 2023 budget, but Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister Kwame McCoy says that big spending is needed to propel Guyana’s development.

McCoy, during his contribution to the budget debates in the National Assembly on Monday, said that the government was spending on initiatives that will bring relief to people.

Among those initiatives the minister identified were increases in the old-age pension, providing each school child with a cash grant, developing roads and bridges, constructing a new Demerara Harbour Crossing and the development of the Gas-to-Energy project.

Each project, he said, is set to bring significant relief to citizens across the country while improving their standard of living.

And so, he asked, “How could these be truthfully described as reckless spending?”

The squatting situation at Mocha, on the East Bank of Demerara (EBD), is one situation McCoy said illustrates the difference in spending priorities.

There, few families refused to relocate to houses and house lots given to them. As such, construction of the much-needed Eccles to Diamond highway along the East Bank of Demerara (EBD) was stalled.

But with members of the Opposition encouraging those squatters to remain in their illegal settlements, McCoy contended that they (the Opposition) were against moves to improve people’s lives.

“Imagine the government is trying to add value to lives and the Opposition is telling them not to move,” Minister McCoy said.

Opposition Parliamentarian Amanza Walton- Desir during her contribution to the debate of budget 2023 (Photo: DPI/January 23, 2023)

He added, “You can’t go to the bank with pigs and two black fowls and get mortgage.”

It was Opposition Parliamentarian Amanza Walton- Desir who expressed concerns that such a massive budget may result in “reckless spending”.

“Last year, this government allocated $218 billion to capital expenditure projects… but the government and the private sector did not have the capacity to execute those projects,” she lamented during her presentation given before Minister McCoy.

Walton-Desir pointed out a few instances where poor works on part of contractors resulted in dilapidated projects.

But McCoy addressed those concerns by assuring the Parliamentarian that the government was keenly focused on prudent spending.

“It is not about just having money and spending it, we have to be prudent in our management.

“We may be the fastest growing economy but we have to manage for today and the future of this economy (end) we are the government that will be there that will be there at all times,” the minister said.

Beyond his statements, other members of the government have addressed poor works on part of contractors. Last week, Public Works Minister Juan Edghill said he would terminate a contract for road upgrades at El Dorado, Region Six after it was found that the contractor did not start any work after eight months of receiving advance payments.

Meanwhile, the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall recently said that a legal team was organised to remedy contract breaches.

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