Budget Debate 20132106 05 Apr, 2013
Mr. Damon: Thank you, Mdm. Deputy Speaker. Before I go into my speech, proper, I would like to notify the Hon. Member, Ms. Selman, that the Brazilians have brought new techniques in mining in this country and they also created employment for Guyanese. Furthermore, the Wharf at Supenaam is serving us Essequibians, and it is serving us well.
As I stand here today in this National Assembly, there are some Hon. Members I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate for doing what I think or assume to be a fantastic job, and sometimes beyond the call of duty.
First on my list is the Hon. Member, Dr. Bheri Ramsarran, in his capacity as Minister of Health, for being able to medivac Mr. Nigel Hughes from the Interior and to make sure medical arrangements were put in place at the Georgetown Hospital. Hats are off to you, Mr. Minister.
Second on my list are the Hon. Minister Robert Persaud and all those other Members who were influential and helped make the breakthrough for a committee agreement for the restoration of Georgetown to the Garden City.
I congratulate the Speaker because it is not easy, as the Speaker, to reverse his decision pertaining to the Hon. Member, Mr. Clement Rohee, against the decision to gag him against the hostile demand of the Opposition. The Commission of Inquiry has spoken that Minister Rohee is not responsible and we are fully aware as to those who are responsible for the situation which occurred some months ago.
On Wednesday last, the Hon. Member, Trevor Williams, in quoting from his speech, did refer to past President Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo as “Jagdeo”. I heard the Hon. Member, Mr. Lumumba, shouting his disgust. Let us, as Members of Parliament, give kudos to where kudos must be given. After twelve years as the President of Guyana, President Jagdeo was instrumental in the development of Guyana and continues to be recognised worldwide, receiving more honourable doctorates than, I think, any other Guyanese except one. Former President Mr. Jagdeo is the first Chairman of the directors of the prevention of greenhouse gasses which can deplete the ozone layer. What more does the Hon. Mr. Jagdeo, the past President, have to do for some of us to recognise him. Past President Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo is a hero and all of us on this side of this House are very proud of Mr. Jagdeo’s achievements.
The Hon. Member, Mr. Trotman, did challenge Mr. Jagdeo in the Court of Law. The Hon. Member, Mr. Trotman, ended up being $50,000 poorer. The President is the Executive President, Hon. Member, just like the other Presidents of Guyana, past and present. The Hon. Member, Mr. Trotman, I think, was wrongly advised, legally.
From 2012 to date, we did little work in this Parliament. This was because of the approach of the Opposition which failed to cooperate with the Government side of this House which has the people out there at heart, and continue in this vein through the presentation on our 2013 Budget, “Overcoming Challenges Together, Accelerating Gaines for Guyana”.
The Hon. Minister of Finance, Mr. Ashni Singh, and his team have done a fantastic job in compiling this 2013 Budget which speaks about the development of the Guyanese people, be it infrastructure, roads, housing schemes, core homes, agriculture, training, education, medical, mining, tourism, airport development and others.
I heard one Member, in his presentation, state that the Budget is dead on arrival. I wonder if that Hon. Member was serious, because this Budget has benefits for every area in Guyana, be it Buxton, Anns Grove, Plaisance, Agricola, Linden, Dartmouth or Queenstown. Surely, as also mentioned by the Member on that side of the House, this Government does not spend moneys only in the areas where we got large numbers of votes. We are not a selfish Government. We care for all the people of this country and we will continue to do so. Guyanese are our brothers, our friends, our neighbours, our villages and our regional people. We do not separate our people.
The Hon. Member, Lt. Col. (Ret’d) Joseph Harmon, some months ago, took his time and categorised the various types of Marriott Hotels. If I remember, Mdm. Deputy Speaker, some seven types of Marriott Hotels were mentioned, and the Hon. Member further stated that instead of the Government looking at the possibility of a cheaper Marriott Hotel, the Government went after one the most expensive types. Mdm. Deputy Speaker, let me say this: some 200 plus persons would be employed, and all or almost all would be Guyanese. Further, I appeal to the Hon. Minister to make sure that when the Marriott Hotel is completed, the Hon. Member must be invited to have a free night’s rest, and, of course, all the other Members.
Mdm. Deputy Speaker and Hon. Members on both sides of this House, the 2013 Budget indeed speaks for itself. In Region 2, we are very happy with the various allocations for Region 2, Pomeroon-Supenaam. Every sector in Region 2 will benefit from this 2013 Budget. I do not want to go into figures but, if any Member is interested, he or she can check his or her 2013 Estimates.
We, in Region 2, would continue with our programmes, where we left off in 2012. There will be more bridges, more roads, more structures, more vehicles for the Regional Administration, new desks, benches and computers for our schools, improvements in our health system, and so on.
In Region 2, our road cannot take off a steady flow of vehicles because of the investment climate in the Region. Development is everywhere and some homes have, sometimes, three vehicles or more.
The rice industry in Region 2 is producing paddy for the Petro Caribe Agreement with Venezuela and, for this crop, farmers are reaping 40 bags per acre. As I speak, the reaping is in progress and the weather is favourable to our farmers.
Region 2 is developing at all leaps and bounds. We have more than 1,000 mineral investments in the Interior and are producing significantly to the Gold Board so that the 2013 target can be met.
It is a known fact that at Charity there is a branch of the Guyana Gold Board and also a branch of the Citizens Bank, bringing the number of banks in Region 2 to six, namely: Citizens Bank, Demerara Bank, Republic Bank, Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry, New Building Society bank and IPED bank. All of these banks are doing well in the interest of the people. Banks are always built where money is being circulated. Essequibo is testimony to that.
The Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL), the Busta Company and Banks DIH all had good years in Region 2 to the extent that Banks DIH sold more than $1 billion in beverages and alcohol in that Region.
Last year, I spoke about a number of vehicle dealers in Region 2. As I speak, the vehicle dealers have increased from seven, in 2012, to 13 in 2013. Only a lazy person cries fowl in Region 2 as a labourer. Demands for their skills in Region 2 are everywhere, be it sawmillers, rice millers or even farmers. Region 2 has the most outstanding student which topped the Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate (CSEC) Examination in the Caribbean. Hats are off to the pupil that topped the CSEC Examination, and also to the Hon. Minister of Education for having better systems in place at our schools, which are conducive to learning.
The health sector continues to serve the people of Region 2 with distinction. The medical lunch Janet Jagan continues to serve the people of the Pomeroon with distinction...
We have, in Region 2, new supermarkets everywhere. New hotels continue to answer the tourism drive in Guyana - the Holiday Resort, the Chee Parris, the WD, Xenon, Oasis and others. Our nine Amerindian communities have all shown positive growth, be it housing, new schools, health centres and health posts, or even agriculture, logging and extraction of white sand, which is to be part of the building boom in Region 2.
In my last Budget presentation, I made a request to the Hon. Minister, Robeson Benn, to arrange a trip for Members of this House to travel to Region 2 on the M.V. Sabanto. I would like to repeat that call to the Hon. Minister.
I do not want to go on and on and to bore this House. Let me says this: in Pomeroon, we have developed large portions of land through the block planting system where farmers are benefiting immensely and are producing more food for export from Guyana. There usually is a boat going to Pomeroon and collecting processed food in large quantities for Barbados and other parts of the Caribbean.
Let me say that the rice industry continues to produce because of timely intervention by the Minister of Agriculture and the rice research section of the National Agriculture Research Institute (NARI) and Region 2. We were able to have more than seven new paddy varieties in Region 2. All these varieties are doing well. In the Drainage & Irrigation (D&I) system, we were able to complete all our drains and dams so that our farmers could have benefited immensely throughout last year and even up to now.
The Hon. Member made mention of the sea defences and the Mangrove Restoration Programme. Let it be known to this House that the Mangrove Restoration Programme is a grant of EU$4 million to the Sea Defence Department for the replanting of Mangroves in this country. In Region 2, we have some very sturdy sea defences although the Hon. Member mentioned that slippages and cavities affect large portions of our sea defence in this country.
The Hon. Member spoke about there being a possible issue with Venezuela if President Maduro loses the elections – we might have a border problem. Let me remind the Hon. Member, “We aint giving up nothing.”
All the rice farmers of Region 2 have sent their belated sympathy to the people of Venezuela and wish President Maduro a successful election on the 14th April, 2013.
In closing, I once again congratulate the Hon. Minister of Finance and staff for preparing a people’s budget, titled “Overcoming Challenges Together, Accelerating Gains for Guyana” and not party-supporter areas. God bless the PPP/C for continued peace, progress and prosperity. [Applause]
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