Budget Debate 20133014 05 Apr, 2013
Mr. Neendkumar: Mdm. Deputy Speaker, Hon. Ministers, fellow Hon. Members of this honourable House, I had a good experience just now but I thought that I was dreaming because this is the first time I saw a road in a plastic bag. I take cognisance of that.
As I rise to support this 2013 Budget, allow me to congratulate our Hon. Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Kumar Singh, and his reliable and competent staff for the timely preparation and crystal clear presentation of the 2013 real peoples’ budget.
This Budget is consistent with the constitutional provisions as set out in law. This very edifying Budget was presented to this House and the nation with elevated vibrancy of the Hon. Minister of Finance. His robust presentation and his honesty of purpose make the coherence of his plans for the development of this country crystal clear. However, most significant is the fact that the youthful and brilliant Dr. Ashni Singh presented a budget that has its biggest allocation towards education.
Education is not a privilege to the PPP/C; it is a right. This is a Budget that is offering substantial opportunities and benefits to our adolescents, the very young and our youths during their school life. Even when they get married, the Budget offers them that special package which will give them the opportunity to build a house. We can all agree that the greatest gift a young family can receive is that of a home in which that family can be nurtured.
This PPP/C believes in the role of the family. By making sure that the young family has a home, water, electricity and the other basic necessities, our people’s family life will be strengthened and there will be less single parents. Our country’s greatest asset, our children, will grow up in the loving arms of their mothers and fathers.
The ramblings and the flip-flop, lacklustre presentations of some of the Members of the Opposition are understandable. We, in this honourable House, must appreciate that we are living in better times, thanks to the PPP/C Government.
I am unhappy with the way this House is functioning and, more so, I am in sympathy with the Speaker at the helm of this House. This year, the Guyanese people are celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the 1973 Corentyne Ballot Box Martyrs. Yes, we were very young and we were motivated to struggle for free and fair elections when we saw how Bholanauth Parmanand and Jagan Ramessar were slaughtered.
Eyewitnesses to that horrific slaughter are still alive; Bijulie Motie, Rishiram Motie and Joe Budhram are still alive. This year, if this nonsense continues, then I feel we should go back to the polls and bring an end to this one-seat majority.
I want to call on the Opposition leaders to let us speak to each other. Let us respect all those who made the supreme sacrifice for the better Guyana that we have today.
President Donald Ramotar is a very good listener and I want to assure you that on this side of the House, there are people who are brilliant, reasonable and prepared at any time for any meaningful engagement and consultation.
I call on you to lobby support for your needs and wants, and I am sure that with trust and compromise we will all be able to work together. And, Mdm. Deputy Speaker, remember we had a seminar on trust and confidence.
The theme of this Budget is indeed appropriate: “Overcoming Challenges Together, Accelerating Gains for Guyana.” This record presentation of a $208.8 billion Budget is indeed a manifestation of the result of seven consecutive years of growth in our economy. Hence, while this Budget is heavily biased in favour of our young people, I am thrilled to see that the older generation will benefit from a 25percent increase in their old age pension and there is further help with their light bills and water bills. This PPP/C Government earns the right to be described as the most caring, loving and responsible Government in this hemisphere.
Guyana is one of the countries that was seriously short-changed by the colonial masters and when they gave power to the People’s National Congress (PNC) that Government also did not provide our people with any proper international sports facilities.
Today, the PPP/C Government can boast that we built a state-of-the-art national stadium at Providence. It is indeed God’s gift that our National Cricket Team won two matches there earlier this week.
The Olympic-sized swimming pool is a reality, and last year Guyana hosted the Caribbean Goodwill Swimming Competition. Our visitors were high in their praise for the quality of the pool, and, let me say that I am indeed proud to know that all and sundry are praising us for the quality maintenance provided. Significantly, the main Maintenance Officer is a graduate from Kurukuru College right here in Guyana. This Indigenous son, Gregory La Rose, a graduate from the Electrical Department is proud of the kudos that eminent visitors such as Lord Tiffany from Canada showered on him.
Mdm. Deputy Speaker, allow me to also make mention of the fact that at the last Regional Democratic Council (RDC) meeting in Region No.4 the Chairman, Mr. Corlette praised the young plumber attached to the RDC for the efficient and excellent work that he did at his home. Mr. Corlette said that he could not believe that Mr. Guy Thom, a graduate from Kurukuru College, could do such quality plumbing in such a short time.
We have some young vibrant Ministers in this Government. A substantial amount of investment that is put into the New Opportunity Corp (NOC), Kurukuru and other venues come from the initiatives of Minister Dr. Frank Anthony who was able to access fund from NGOs. I invite all Members of this House to visit Kurukuru College and the NOC and you will not believe the quality of equipment and the facilities you see there to continue to provide further training for our youths. The Government believes that we must cajole and nurture our very young people because it is our responsibility to be a Government for all the people.
This 2013 Budget allocated $1,199,299,000 to ensure that all Guyanese are provided with opportunities to participate in sport activities and programmes thereby channeling their energies, abilities and talents, to contribute meaningfully to national development in all communities in all parts of Guyana.
I want to thank the PPP/C Government, particularly Minister Ashni Singh, for making such a generous allocation to the further development of sport.
Let me further inform this Honourable House that of the aforementioned amount $560 million has been budgeted for advancing work on the construction of a state-of-the-art synthetic athletic track which will also have the best football-field in the Caribbean. At this venue we will be able to host international athletic events and international football.
$52 million has been allocated for us to build a warm-up pool at the National Aquatic Centre so that we will be able to host regional and international swim meets. A further $300 million will be for development and upgrading of sport facilities and infra-structure countrywide. I am quite sure that all of us in this Honourable House are fully aware of the fact that our youths throughout this country are beseeching us to provide them with better sports facilities.
I would like to call on all Honourable Members of this House to make sure that when we allocate money for the construction and development of facilities that the money is well spent, not for a single group, but for all Guyanese. I hope we will sort out the problem that Mr. Ramayya spoke about; it needs to be sorted out.
I listened to the Hon. Member Mr. Renis Morian’s presentation and I listened also to the Hon. Member Vanessa Kissoon. Mr. Morian questioned the Government’s position in respect to the appointment of women in Region No. 10. I would like to report the following: Women in management positions in the Regional Democratic Council, Region No. 10 and other agencies Regional Executive Officer Yolanda Hillman, promoted in January, 2012; Deputy Regional Executive Officer Maylene Stephen, promoted in February, 2012; Assistant Regional Executive Officer Leola Narine appointed in August, 2012; Regional Education Officer Jennifer Bourne, promoted in 2012; Regional Health Officer Pansy Armstrong and Administrative Assistant Janicia Anderson promoted in January 2012; District Education Officer Sonia Fraser, Principal Assistant Secretary (Finance) Dolette Powers, Senior Personnel Officer Simone Johnson, District Education Officer (Nursery), and I could go on. But I want to also tell you that for the first time we have a town clerk, Jonell Bowen Appointed in 2012. Even at the Linden Hospital Complex we have the Senior Personnel Officer (LHC) Michelle Bollers, and the Chief Accountant Mrs. McKinnon. Do you see the balance from what Mr. Morian said? He said he and I are friends; we could still be friends.
The Bauxite Industry. Everyone who worked at the bauxite industry knows that the industry has been unprofitable since 1982. By 1992 the then President Desmond Hoyte threatened to close the industry since it was costing the Government more than US$5 million to keep it going. The PPP/C Government under Cheddi Jagan had the Alumina Plant functioning and in 1982 the PNC closed the Alumina Plant sending home approximately 1,200 workers. The PPP/C in full respect to the people in the Linden Community kept faith in the Company. BOSAI came in and over the last three years they are showing a profit. In 2012 the Company made a net profit of US$14.8 million. The Company employed 640 persons directly with 18 foreigners only while more than one thousand persons are employed on contract and otherwise. After all the years of the bauxite industry only last year we saw the provision of a dust collector at Kiln No. 14. And I want to assure this House that all systems are put in place to have a dust collector at Kiln No.13 shortly – by June. Thank you Minister.
Linden Economic Advancement Programme (LEAP)-as a result of the failure of Minproc to make the Bauxite Company profitable and the heavy loss of employment, the PPP/C Administration embarked on a study to look at methods of diversification from being dependent on bauxite only. Hence the birth of the LEAP project which was the brain child of his Former President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo. That project was financed under a grant from the European Union; the project commenced in 2002.
Because of what my friend over there said I will just mention a few of the projects that came out of LEAP:
Rehabilitation and extension of West Watooka farm to market Road
• Installation of Culverts at West Watooka
• Rehabilitation of Moblissa road.
• Rehabilitation to 3 sluices/Kokers and Burnham Drive. And when we talk about road when we came in Government in 1992 Burnham Drive and Arvida Avenue were dust; this Government put asphalt so residents could drive freely with no more dust.
• Construction of Spreightland Bridge
• Rehabilitation of the Mackenzie Car Park
• Construction of sub-office at Ituni RDC.
• Rehabilitation of Mackenzie Wharf and Building of stalls
• Rehabilitation of Himara Road
• Construction of water System at Moblissa
• Construction of Egbert Benjamin Exhibition Center–at Mackenzie
Investments in Linden:
• Bai-Shanlin-Wood-Timber Processing. And only yesterday the Hon. Minister told you about the advertisement in your favourite paper Mdm. Speaker, the Stabroek News.
• Toucan connection invested US$510,000
• Triple L’s bakery invested US$10,000.
• GNIC Container Yard invested US$855,000 preparing for Linden / Brazil operation.
• JB metals workshop and operations invested G$80 million at the old rail road area,
• L&L Modern Restaurant invested over G$45 million
• A & R Collision Workshop invested over G$35 million.
• We now have two new commercial banks – Citizens and NBIC.
Courts establish a business in Linden. And there are many hardware stores now to match the growing housing drive. Now there is Churches Fast Food in Linden. There are many other businesses in operation that I have not mentioned.
12.5 Million Euro was put into LEAP; 701 loans were approved and 752 were disbursed. The history of that will come out shortly.
Housing - The first well-planned housing scheme that was built in Linden was the Wismar Housing Scheme under the then Minister of Housing the late President Janet Jagan. Since the PPP/C took office in 1992 more than 4,000 persons received house lots at Block 22, Amelia’s Ward and in other areas. Thank you very much Minister Irfaan Ali. Very shortly another 1,000 house lots will be distributed. The Government is spending approximately $500 million to develop phase three of the Amelia’s Ward project and development works are underway. Thank you Minister Irfaan Ali.
Agriculture was absent from Region No.10. There was the Siripana Farm, who liquidated it? There was the Goat Farm, who liquidated it? Answer -over $150 million was spent in developing the West Watooka farming area with access road and drainage. Over $30 million was spent to rehabilitate the road at Moblissa.
I listened to the Education report and I want to tell you that when I first came into this Parliament about 10 years ago I was fortunate to be in London at a Commonwealth parliamentary programme and one night while in my hotel room I was amazed to see the BBC News reporting about Minister Henry Jeffrey who was the Minister of Education. The report since then said that Region No.10 has the most graduates and most trained teachers per capita in this country. And it still is, like last year when young Allen was the top common entrance student in this country. It was the first time in the history that a student from Linden topped this country.
• All the existing Schools in Region No.10 were rehabilitated since 1992.
• Linden Foundation School (new) at Amelia’s Ward cost over $250 million. And this is the best secondary school, construction wise, in the Caribbean. In fact there is a contest in Region No.10. The Mackenzie High School is seen as Former President Burnham High School, the High School over at Wismar, where all the dust used to go, is seen as President Hoyte’s High School, but the Linden Foundation, the best constructed, is seen as Bharrat Jagdeo High School. This is the sentiment of the people in Linden.
• New Wisburg Secondary School at Wisroc Cost over $350 million.
• New St. Aidians Primary School at Blue Berry Hill cost over $ 200 million.
• New Watooka Primary School at Watooka, cost over $120 million.
• New Primary School was built at Kwakwani.
• New Primary School was built at Ituni.
• New Primary School was built at Malali.
• New Primary School was built at Muritaro.
• New Primary School was built at Great Falls.
• New Primary School was built at 47 Miles.
• New Primary School Built at 58 Miles.
We also built two hostels, one in Mackenzie and another in Kwakwani and they are functioning. Thank you very much Minister Priya Manickchand.
When we talk about Health we must be fair and honest. There is a new state of the art hospital built at Mackenzie at a cost of $1.8 billion. We must be fair in our comments.
In Linden surroundings, I want to tell you that health centres were built that did not exist under the previous government. A new health centre was built at One Mile replacing the old one. A new health centre was built at West Watooka, Amelia’s Ward, Siberian/Old England, Coomacka and Three Friends. Other Health Centre/Post in Region No.10 that did not exist under the PNC, One was built at Ituni, at Malali, Demerara River, at Muritaro, Demerara River, at 47 Miles, at Rockstone, at 58 Miles, Anarika and Great Falls. And in the Berbice River at De Veldt, Calcuni, Ebini, St. Lust, Maria Henrietta, Hururu, and Wiruni thanks to the PPP/C Government.
We come to social and sports facilities. I want to tell my good Friends Trevor Williams and Christopher Jones that…
Mdm. Deputy Speaker: Honourable.
Mr. Neendkumar: Yes, Honourable; they are Honourable. Mdm. Deputy Speaker you did not listen when the speaker before me did not talk about Honourable. I hope we have the verbatim notes to see that. But I agree with you that I must say honourable. Minister Anthony now has the sports policy and plan for the Cooperative Republic of Guyana. We will be making this available to the nation shortly. So I want to assure my Comrades that we will be getting it.
Social and sport facilities - it is this Government which built the Community Centre at Christianburg. This PPP/C government built a community centre at Bayroc, a community centre at Silvertown, and a community centre at Coomacka, community centre at Maria Elizabeth¸ community centre at Wiruni¸ bleachers at West Watooka Ground¸ bleachers at Ituni Ground. And yes, Brother Odinga, I agree with you, you gave the money and you helped to rehabilitate the Basketball Court at Mackenzie and at Amelia’s Ward too. Thank you Brother Odinga.
In respect to the Berbice Bauxite operations, the Company produced $1.6 million tonnes of Bauxite in 2012 while in 2013 the Company is projecting to produce $1.8 million tonnes. We must appreciate that Rusal has more equipment in the Company than any other Company in the history of Guyana.
Allow me to inform this House about RUSAL’s Contribution to the Community; Rusal’s contributions to Guyana’s rural economy – for workers transportation, last year they spent $133.8 million; sports for mini Olympics $2 million.
For example, when the sister said the team went to Antigua, but the Government did not support the National Sports Commission under the advice of the Hon. Minister gave to that team financial support and assisted them to go to Antigua. I want to assure you of that.
Hururu Amerindian Day $0.5 million; road repairs at Kwakwani for 2012 $1.5 million; Linden/Kwakwani Road $2 million; the Company put $2.5 million to pay Aroaima Teachers last year; bus fuel for Hururu, $4.4 million and for Kwakwani $164,000; Maple Town cost the Company $256.3 million to maintain; free house for workers $136 million; monthly bonus for the year 2012, 30 percent; safety bonus for the year 2012, $51.2 million; heavy equipment training $14.2 million; because when the people are trained they are going for more lucrative and better salaries in the interior.
Mdm. Deputy Speaker, in 2013 local contractors will be employed with 40 trucks.
The Company will construct: a complete new dryer, a complete new crusher, and a complete new plant. There will also be a new port and new office buildings. While the Company has 506 persons on their payroll, there are approximately 900 persons working with contracts and sub-contracts.
I am proud to report to this Honourable House that our young athletic team that competed at the just concluded Junior Carifta Games in Bahamas and arrived home this morning won six medals for their homeland. Jevina Straker, a student of Tutorial High School, won Gold – her second gold Medal at the Games; fourteen-year old Cassey George of the Mining Town Linden who attends Christianburg/Wismar Secondary School was our top performer with a Gold in the girls Under-17 1,500 metres, and a Silver in the 800 metres while Tirana Mitchell, Jason Yaw and Kadicia Baird won Bronze medals. It is pleasing to also announce that young Andrea Foster won a Gold medal last week at the FALCON Championships in Trinidad. Guyana is on the rise. Let us give our unflinching support to the 2013 Budget as prepared by the Hon. Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Kumar Singh.
Thank you. [Applause]
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