PM Phillips boasts of ‘generous allocations’ in budget 2024; Lawrence says more needed
Prime Minister Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips on Friday boasted that the 2024 National Budget provides “generous allocations” to all sectors, particularly those that help to support vulnerable citizens across the country.
The Prime Minister was the penultimate government speaker during this year’s budget debates.
Surrounded by Government Parliamentarians cheering him on, he affirmed that the 2024 spending plan, Guyana’s first trillion-dollar budget, indicates the government’s “strategic investments” into the country’s future.
“Beyond infrastructure, there are generous allocations in all sectors,” Prime Minister Phillips said.
The education and healthcare sectors, for example, have seen substantial boosts, the Prime Minister said.
“This budget is a testament to our commitment to building a nation that benefits from its natural resources and uses them strategically for our development,” he added.
Aside from his general comments on the budget, he zeroed in on the sectors that he manages, particularly the energy sector.
He reminded citizens that electricity rates have not increased beyond pre-COVID levels because the government has been heavily subsidising costs. And through the 2024, the government continues to do so.
Further, he said continued investments in the forthcoming mega Gas-to-Energy project at Wales on the West Bank of Demerara (WBD) will slash energy costs by half, allowing people to pay even lower rates for electricity.
In renewable energy, there is much unfolding, according to the Prime Minister.
Budgetary allocations this year, he said, will allow the government to construct an additional five solar mini-grids throughout Region Nine. That venture is expected to benefit an additional 4,700 people.
The Prime Minister’s presentation followed that of Opposition Parliamentarian, Volda Lawrence. She described this year’s budget as unsatisfactory.
“A number of other measures have been announced in the budget. As desperate as they are… we can’t be thankful for the morsels being thrown our way.
“We will not be satisfied that in a trillion-dollar budget, we the people are relegated to the bottom of a cement and steel pile,” Lawrence said.
Like many of her colleagues in the Opposition, a huge disappointment for Lawrence was the absence of a specific announcement for salary increases for workers. She also suggested that the minimum National Insurance Scheme (NIS) old-age pension be increased further than the $43,075 proposed by the government, and for that increase to be applied retroactively.
Lawrence called on the government to engage the Parliamentary Opposition on measures that would better support people.