Presented under the theme ‘A better Guyana for all Guyanese’, Education, Health, Public Works and the Security Sector will grab the lion’s share of the $220B Budget.
Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh yesterday presented the estimates of National Expenditure for 2014 and said that the Ministry of Public Works will be given $13.7B for the construction of roads and bridges this year.
Of that amount, $12.9B is for roads and $842M will be expended on bridges across the country.
Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh makes his way to the Chambers to present the 2014 Budget
Last year Government invested $11.3B to continue the construction of the East Bank Demerara and East Coast Demerara four-lane highways; the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) access road; rural, community and hinterland roads; additional street lighting, and the rehabilitation of the Demerara Harbour Bridge.
This year, according to Dr Singh, the four-lane access road to the CJIA and the East Coast Demerara four-lane highway are slated for completion.
According to the Finance Minister, this year works will commence on the West Coast Demerara Road and will include pavement rehabilitation, pedestrian and cycle lanes in selected high traffic areas, and street lighting.
He noted too that the widening of the East Coast Highway will continue and road reconstruction works for the upgrading of Better Hope to Belfield will commence.
Dr Singh said, too, that construction of the Parika/Ruby backdam roads will begin. It will open up access to over 330 farming households and over 2,000 acres of mixed crop farming.
Dr Singh said that this year government will also complete a financial feasibility study for the construction of a bypass road from Ogle to Eccles 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 our two international airports and opening up a new development corridor for the East Bank Demerara.”
According to Dr Singh, $338M has been allocated for critical works to extend the life of the Demerara Harbour Bridge.
A total of $6.6B has been budgeted for the CJIA.
He said too that 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.
According to the Finance Minister, this year, $1.9B is budgeted to ensure the further strengthening of the sea and river defence infrastructure with critical works being undertaken in Regions Two to Seven.
Over the next five years, according to Dr Singh, Government will invest more than US$65M in infrastructural works and coastal zone management systems.
In the Education Sector, the Minister announced that the new Education Strategic Plan for 2014 to 2018 is currently being finalised and is anticipated to focus on improving literacy rates, early childhood development, teacher training, enrolment in single sciences, technical vocational educational programmes, and more structured partnerships with private sector providers and parents.
According to Dr Singh, in 2014, the sum of $32.3B has been allocated to implement the first year of this new Education Strategic Plan.
He said too that in the budget $2.9B has been allocated for the construction, rehabilitation, extension and maintenance of the nation’s educational facilities including a new and expanded Zeeburg Secondary School and the Kato Secondary complex.
“We will commence implementation of a US$10M Universal Secondary Education initiative, which will facilitate the construction of new secondary schools and provision of materials for improved teaching techniques and technology assisted learning in mathematics.”
The Minister advised that there will be continued emphasis on tertiary education and as such $1.4B has been set aside for both campuses of the University of Guyana, inclusive of $450M for the student loan programme.
Dr Singh announced too that “later this year our students will have the option of online degree programmes for the first time ever”.