Delivered to the National Assembly under the theme ‘A better Guyana for all Guyanese’ the 2014 National Budget of $220B, presented by Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh, has several new measures for the benefit of children, pensioners, the sugar industry and electricity customers among others.
The largest allocations as per normal under the current administration are proposed for the Education, Health and Security sectors. Education was allocated the sum of $32.3 B with $1.5 slated for the University of Guyana inclusive of student loans. The Health Sector is budgeted to receive $21.5 B, whilst the Security Sector’s allocation is $19.5 B.
The $32.3B has been allocated towards the implementation of the first year of the new Education Strategic Plan of which $2.9 B has been allocated towards the construction, rehabilitation, extension and maintenance of educational facilities including a new and expanded Zeeburg Secondary School, Region Three and the Kato Secondary complex, Region Eight. Moreover, implementation of a US$10M Universal Secondary Education initiative will be commenced, which will facilitate the construction of new secondary schools and provision of materials for improved teaching techniques and technology assisted learning in mathematics.
Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh presenting the 2014 National Budget
The teacher training college will continue to offer their existing programmes, as well as focus on the appraisal and development of their lecturers including having some teachers pursue post-graduate degrees. Efforts will be intensified to eliminate illiteracy and strengthen public awareness to ensure that parents understand their vital role in the literacy development of their children.
In the area of ICT, Government will allocate resources to ensure that an additional 2,500 teachers are trained, and all secondary schools are equipped with computer laboratories before the end of 2014.
The sum of $21.5B has been allocated towards this sector for the achievement of its strategic goals. Of this amount $2.4B is budgeted for construction and upgrade of health care facilities countrywide including the Port Kaituma District Hospital, Linden Hospital Complex, Kwakwani Hospital, the acute care facility at the National Psychiatric Hospital, and the Georgetown School of Nursing.
A dapper looking Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh makes his way into the National Assembly to present Budget 2014
Also, $910M is allocated for the Specialty Hospital while $382.7M is allocated for the purchase of medical equipment and $117M is allocated for the purchase of 12 ambulances which represent a 40 percent increase in the national fleet.
Further, in the efforts to continue both primary and specialised health training over $428 M has been allocated to train 20 additional post-graduate residents, and upgrade over 4000 providers.
Additionally, in keeping with the focus on maternal and child health, the sum of $50 M is allocated to commence the extension of the maternity facility at the Georgetown Public Hospital to ensure increased bed capacity while $22.6M is allocated for the establishment of maternity waiting homes in Lethem and Bartica to cater for antenatal high-risk mothers.
Government will continue to place substantial emphasis to ensure that strategic planning and evidence based interventions are made towards the maintenance of public order and safety throughout Guyana, and to this end, $19.5B is allocated. Training will be conducted for the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Unit and a sum of $382.6 M has been allocated to train the joint services, while $413M is budgeted to train and equip community policing groups countrywide in an effort to restore safe neighbourhoods to our citizens.
Training will also commence with staff at the forensic laboratory on chemical analysis, drugs analysis, and toxicology and court room procedures. A sum of $1.2B has been allocated for the completion of the forensic laboratory and the fire training school and the continuous upgrading of physical infrastructure across the joint service in locations across the country. A sum of $1.1B has been allocated to support land, air and sea operations of the joint services while another $1.1B is allocated to effectively equip our forces to serve and protect our citizens.
A sum of $1.8 B will consolidate the advances already made within the justice sector. Within the courts, a number of practice directions are being drafted to support the new Rules of the High Court Civil Procedure. These new rules will simplify the commencement of proceedings in court, allow citizens easier access to the court, and provide the mechanism for recourse to mediation, to which the Government has already appropriately demonstrated its support by the enactment of alternative dispute resolution legislation. In addition, investment in infrastructure will continue apace, with an amount of $238.5M allocated to fund the construction of a Land Court, a new Magistrates’ Court at Sparendaam, the completion of the No. 51 Village Court, the rehabilitation of court rooms at the High Court, and maintenance of facilities nationwide.
The sum of US$90.6 M has been allocated for continued implementation of the Guyana Redd + and Investment Fund (GRIF) projects previously identified, along with new projects in the priority areas of adaptation, high potential low carbon sectors, hinterland development and low carbon infrastructure. Specific new interventions are expected to include ecotourism development, aquaculture development and rehabilitation works on the Cunha Canal. This second wave of projects will commence with a communication and outreach programme for the LCDS in the second quarter of this year, along with the development of a National Climate Resilience Strategy and Action Plan. In addition, a sum of US$80M is once again allocated to meet Guyana’s equity contribution to Amaila Falls Hydro Power Project.
Recognising the importance of ICT to its modernisation efforts, Government will continue to invest in the sector. The sum of $1.1B has been budgeted for the completion of works under the e-Government project, which includes the completion of 13 additional LTE-A towers. The OLPF initiative will be re-launched and re-invigorated, and will benefit from a budgeted $2B for the acquisition of a third batch of laptops, with an estimated 17,948 laptops scheduled for distribution this year. Before the end of the year, 100 percent of secondary schools will have functioning IT labs.
Budget 2014 makes a provision for Government to transfer $6B to GUYSUCO to help the industry achieve the reversal of fortunes which is badly needed. This provision will benefit 18,000 workers directly, including by helping to preserve their jobs and a total of 120,000 people indirectly.
The industry has grown to a historic high and to ensure it retains its competitive advantage, even in harsher market conditions, Budget 2014 provides $500M to be injected into the industry to support its efforts to increase competitiveness and resilience.
Roads and bridges
To the improve roads and bridges network, $13.7B, of which $12.9B will be spent on roads and $844.2M on bridges. The four lane access road to the CJIA and the East Bank Demerara four-lane highway are slated for completion this year and will alleviate much of the current traffic bottlenecks and improve safety.
Works will also commence on the West Coast Demerara Road and will include pavement rehabilitation, pedestrian and cycle lanes in selected high traffic areas, and street lighting. The widening of the East Coast Highway will continue and road reconstruction works for the upgrading of Better Hope to Belfield will commence. Construction of the Parika/Ruby Backdam roads will begin, thus opening up access to over 330 farming households and over 2,000 acres of mixed crop farming.
Engineering designs for the Canal Polder Nos. 1 and 2 roads and feasibility studies and designs for the extension of the highway from Diamond to Timehri will be undertaken. On the East Bank Berbice, studies and designs will be completed and the complete reconstruction of six kilometres from Stanleytown to Everton and upgrade of 11.5 kilometres from Belle Vue to Light Town will commence.
A financial feasibility study for the construction of a bypass road from Ogle to Eccles will be done which will open new areas for development and investment and create a second route to reduce the congestion for the East Bank Demerara traffic. This will constitute the first phase in the development of an alternative route to the CJIA, thereby linking the two international airports and opening up a new development corridor for the East Bank Demerara.
An amount of $7.7B has been allocated for the improvement of rural, community and hinterland roads and for street lighting from Belle Vue to Patentia.
Further, the feasibility study for the new Demerara River Bridge has been completed, and Government has invited expressions of interest for a public-private partnership for its construction. The sum of $338M has been budgeted for critical works to extend the life of the Demerara Harbour Bridge.
Air and river transport
A total of $6.6 B has been budgeted for the CJIA. The relocation of the Guyana Defence Force engineering division at Timehri is targeted for completion to facilitate construction works on the new airport terminal building. Additionally, $231.1M is provided for the rehabilitation and maintenance of hinterland airstrips and a further $773.9M for dredging equipment, ferry vessels, and spares and for the rehabilitation of stellings.
Sea and river defence
In 2014, the sum of $1.9B is budgeted to ensure the further strengthening of the sea and river defence infrastructure. Critical works will be done in Regions 2 to 7. The mangrove restoration and replanting programme will continue with the planting of 50,000 mangrove seedlings, spartina grassing in selected areas, the construction of geotextile breakwater structures, and the hydrological restoration of Wellington Park mangrove site.
Drainage and Irrigation
The sum of $6.9B is allocated for the completion of drainage and irrigation structures for the Northern Relief Channel Project, the completion of Hope/Dochfour public road bridge, the construction of nine new drainage pump stations at Windsor Forest, Canal Polder, Pine Ground, No. 66 Village, Paradise, Gangaram, Eversham, No. 43 Village and Lima and the rehabilitation of intake structures and sluices at Ann’s Grove, Hope, Annandale and Nancy in addition to other works.
Energy, power generation and supply
With a $7.7B allocation to this sector, in excess of $200Mn has been budgeted for the implementation of activities targeting improved management capacity and capabilities, operational efficiency and loss reduction. Also, four new substations will be completed at Liliendaal, Ruimveldt, Golden Grove and Columbia, the substation at Onverwagt will be upgraded, transmission lines will be installed from Columbia to Onverwagt and new fibre optic cables will be laid from Sophia to Garden of Eden.
As it relates to interventions promoting loss reduction, the rehabilitation and reconfiguration of distribution networks will continue unabated in order to improve efficiency. The re-metering programme using smart meters, will continue utilising modern technology to combat the theft of electricity. These initiatives are critical for the efficiency of GPL, and in ensuring that GPL is prepared to be a capable off taker for the AFHP.
Government has allocated $4.4 billion to the housing sector. 5,900 house lots are to be allocated and processed and 4,100 land titles distributed to new landowners. Further, housing development will continue at Eccles, Diamond, Anna Catherina, Uitvlugt, Bath, and No. 77 Village, among others. In addition, through the continuation of the public-private turnkey initiative, another 100 houses will be constructed and an additional 50 police officers, nurses and teachers will be allocated land to construct their homes. The sector will also see the completion and distribution of another 176 core houses, disbursement of 134 coastal home improvement subsidies valued at $26.8M and an additional disbursement of 54 hinterland subsidies valued $54M, benefiting 1,248 people.
With over $2.5Bto the water sector, this will see the drilling, construction and completion of wells in Cotton Tree, Hope, Mon Repos, Sparendaam and Sophia, the construction of water clarifier and filter at Bartica and Eccles, the upgrade of service connections in East Berbice and Linden, and the installation of transmission and distribution mains in areas such as Vergenoegen, Victoria, Crabwood Creek, Angoy’s Avenue, and Bartica.
Further, the two water treatment plants at Wisroc and Amelia’s Ward will be completed, benefitting more than 30,000 residents in Region 10. Water supply improvement works will be done in hinterland communities in areas such as Waikerabi, Santa Rosa, Arau, Taruka, Kanapang, Kathur, Aishalton and St. Ignatius, benefitting approximately 20,000 residents.
In 2014, the sum of $544.6M has been provided for the completion of the sewer system in Central Georgetown, the sewer outfall in Georgetown and the sewerage pumping station at Tucville. The draft Solid Waste Management Bill is also being reviewed and is expected to be tabled in this Honourable House later this year.
A sum of $1.1B is budgeted for the completion of civil works and for operational expenses at the Haags Bosch Sanitary Landfill 320 tonnes of solid waste daily.
Vulnerable Groups and Other Targeted Interventions
In 2014, a sum of $382.5M has been allocated to consolidate efforts made toward the delivery of childcare and protection services. Approximately 300 day care facilities are expected to be assessed and the staff advised and trained on regulatory requirements for licensing. In addition training will be conducted in all regions to equip approximately 2,000 parents and primary care givers with skills and information to improve their parenting capacity.
Government will continue to place focus on improving the quality of facilities available throughout the country, as well as offering quality programmes in the area of sports for both athletes and officials. To this end, a sum of over $960 million has been allocated to the sector of which $344 M is expected to be spent on continuing works at the Leonora athletic track and the warm-up pool at the National Aquatic Centre and another $300M is expected to be spent on the grounds’ enhancement initiative which aims at upgrading selected sports grounds countrywide.