After one week of debates and four additional days of considerations, the $552.9 Billion National Budget presented to the House by Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh was passed last evening in the National Assembly with no adjustments made despite several recommendations from the Opposition.
The budget, since its presentation, has been receiving mixed reviews with some quarters hailing the budget as transformative and others believing more could have been done for the working class and to reduce the cost of living.
But the Finance Minister articulated that the main thrusts of the budget were to ensure the urgent development needs of the country are met in the shortest possible time and to guarantee the long-term economic wellbeing of the nation.
“I believe I am at a point where it is my duty to report that the Committee of Supply has considered the estimate of expenditures for the financial year 2022 and has approved of those estimates as printed,” the Finance Minister told the house following the consideration of all the estimates.
As it relates to the utilization of the Natural Resource Fund, the Minister could not say what specific projects the $126.7B will finance, but noted that it will go towards the government developmental agenda and has dismissed any speculation of misuse of the fund.
“I will reiterate sir that this government is committed to the highest level of transparency and accountability and in fact sir, over the course the years’ history will record that it was the People’s Progressive Party government during our previous administrations the very important element of accountability,” the Finance Minister said.
This year’s budget is 44.3% larger than the 2021 budget and just under 37 percent of the total expenditure in 2021.
The entire US$607.7M from the NRF will be withdrawn from the budget.
The Finance Minister says the budget laid the foundation for improvements in the coverage and quality of social services for Guyanese.