$204B spending on roads, bridges necessary in ‘oil economy’ – Indar
… Fiery debate over Guyana’s debt unfolds with Fernandes
Minister within the Ministry of Public Works Deodat Indar on Monday defended the government’s whopping $204 billion allocation in the 2024 budget for roads and bridges across Guyana, stating that such a large investment is necessary in an oil and gas economy.
Indar was the second government speaker to address the National Assembly on the first day of the 2024 Budget Debates in the National Assembly, at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, Liliendaal.
Though he spent much of this allotted time responding to Opposition Parliamentarians Roysdale Forde and Juretha Fernandes, both of whom spoke before him, Indar eventually delved into the budgetary allocation for the Public Works Ministry.
The largest chunk of the budget went to the Ministry of Public Works for the execution of projects, be it major highways or community roads, all across the country.
Indar specifically pointed out the $204 billion allocation for roads and bridges, stating that this type of capital spending is necessary to position Guyana for future growth. He also explained that within that hefty sum is a substantial allocation for about 4,000 community roads.
“This money, in an oil and gas economy, you have to prepare,” Indar said.
The minister, however, chided the APNU- AFC opposition for being against large capital spending since such investments directly impacts people’s quality of life.
He said, “They don’t know about managing an economy.”
“They spend money in the wrong places. They spent on recurrent expenditure, nothing on capital formation spending.”
As Indar responded to Fernandes, a fiery debate about the government’s debt management erupted.
Earlier, Fernandes was critical of the 2024 budget- Guyana’s first trillion-dollar budget- because of its heavy focus on capital spending. She posited that this heavy focus on capital spending- which includes big sums for roads and bridges- is helping to rack up Guyana’s debt.
So instead, she called on the government to invest in other sectors that would help Guyanese cope better with the rising cost of living and access services they need.
Indar, however, pointed out that Guyana’s debt is the lowest in the region and the government has been managing its expenditures well even as it invests in those capital projects.