Budget Debate 20131815 02 Apr, 2013
Minister of Housing and Water [Mr. Ali]: Mr. Speaker, allow me, first of all, to congratulate the Hon. Dr. Ashni Kumar Singh and his staff of the Ministry of Finance for the production of a budget that seeks to realise the dreams of Guyanese; that seeks to set the framework through which Guyana would move forward and our people would advance. Budget 2013 is the embodiment of hope, the spirit of optimism and the definition of Guyana’s dream. The future is ours. It is Guyana’s time - waka waka.
It is not my intention to be dragged along an aimless road of negativity. It is not my intention to be dragged in a debate that seeks to castigate Guyana and does not analyse the plan that resides in the budget to take us forward. In the more than one hour of rambling from the Hon. Member, which concluded a few second ago, he failed to address, or acknowledged, not one of the ten measures announced by the Minister of Finance. That is what I call sleight of hand. The argument that VAT brings the burden to the poor and the consumers without acknowledge the fact that that sixteen per cent replaced a thirty per cent consumption tax is sleight of hand - that is sleights of hand. It is not what the Minister of Finance produced here.
The Hon. Member denigrated us. He said that we missed the lecture on “Public Finance.” Well, my dear professor, Hon. Carl Barrington Greenidge, the champion of the poor, the man who knew exactly what to do to improve the conditions of the poor, in 1990, had this to say… [Interruption]
Mr. Speaker: Hon. Members, allow the Minister to make his presentation. Hon. Minister, can you quote the source from which you are about to…
Mr. Ali: In the Hon. Carl Barrington Greenidge’s own words…
Mr. Speaker: What is it you are quoting from?
Mr. Ali: Budget speech 1990 titled, Laying the Foundation for Growth in the 1990s.
Mr. Speaker: Very well.
Mr. Ali: This is what the Hon. Carl Barrington Greenidge said:
“The Government was, of course, especially concerned about the rise in the price of certain essential goods. The retail price of rice, for example, rose by 224 per cent in the first two months after devaluation, and that of cooking gas rose by 244 per cent.”
[Member: Who was the Minister again?] That was the Hon. Carl Barrington Greenidge.
As I said, it is not my intention to go down and recap the state of Guyana, the state of hopelessness. Over the last seven years, this Government has transformed the economic landscape of our country. This Government has created a stable business environment that encourages both domestic and foreign investments. May I say that every single one of the statements I make here I will substantiate with facts a bit later.
Secondly, we improved the quality of the country’s social and physical infrastructure, improved access to shelter through the provision of housing to low income families, expanded the economic base of the country so that it is more resilient to external shocks, improved the competitiveness of the domestic economy, improved the country’s human capital, strengthened the national institution responsible for safety and justice, reduced poverty and inequality, maintained fiscal prudence and, most importantly, restored hope in Guyana.
Let us examine some macro-economic fundamentals. Let us examine facts surrounding Guyana today. Over the last seven years, we grew by almost 4.5 per cent on an average. When we compare this to other countries within the region, we would see that Guyana, during the period 2006 to 2011, grew at 4.53 per cent compared with 0.73 per cent, -0.03 per cent and 2.82 per cent for Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago respectively. This is not what the Minister of Finance said; this is what is reported in the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) 2012 Economic Survey of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Let us look at Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita. The average income which would give us the average income and improvement in the well being of our citizens, the GDP per capita, increased from US$1,694 in 2006 to US$3,148 in 2012. Is this not progress? Is this not advancement in our economy?
One can argue that the increase in per capita GDP can have inflationary effect, but this has not been the case here in Guyana. Why it has not been the case is because of the same measures that the Hon. Carl Greenidge characterised as black-hole measures. It is a subsidy on key and important commodities and services that this Government took on behalf of the people who would have ensured inflation rates remain stable. You may call it black-hole measures, but it is these measures that ensured we had inflation decreasing to 3.5 per cent.
The Hon. Member raised the question of investment. Let us look at Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and what the evidence is in relation to this. The growth in Foreign Direct Investment between 2006 and 2012 trended upwards to $1,326,000,000 dollars. Our Foreign Direct Investment in 2006 was US$102.4 million. Our Foreign Direct Investment in 2012 accumulatively stands at GYD $1,326,000,000. This is as a direct result of the confidence investors have in Guyana, the confidence they have in our economy and the confidence they have in this PPP/Civic Government leading a prosperous Guyana.
Let us look at domestic investment. The best indication of the expansion in domestic investment is the growth in loans and advances to business enterprises by the banking sector. One has seen a growth in advances and loans to the private sector from $30.6 billion in 2006 to $82.6 billion in 2012. Not only were we able to stimulate Foreign Direct Investment; we were able to build the confidence with our local investors, our Guyanese investors, to the extent that they have expanded their investment portfolio to advances in loans and grants.
This is for the avoidance of any doubt. The Hon. Carl Greenidge made a statement that there is some consensus somewhere that none of us are aware of which seeks to portray Guyana as a country facing tremendous difficulties. Let me quote some of the consensus which we will provide the evidence for. Kari Grenade and Denny Lewis-Bynoe in their study entitled, Reflecting on Development Outcomes: A Comparative Analysis of Barbados and Guyana, which was published in the Journal of Eastern Caribbean Studies, showed that the growth in our local economy outpaced that of Barbados since 2006. According to the authors, sound macro-economic management, institutional strengthening, coupled with deeper social cohesion and political stability contributed to this outturn.
More recently, Kari Grenade and Sukrishnalall Pasha in a study entitled, Accelerating Guyana’s Growth Momentum, which was published in the Journal of Developing Countries Studies last November, revealed that the local economy posted above normal growth rates between 2006 and 2011. According to this study, the local economy grew at a faster rate when compared to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, due particularly to higher domestic investment, FDI, net flow and trade.
The study also noted that the rate of economic growth between 2006 and 2010 was significantly higher than rates reported during the period 1998 to 2005. The 2012 survey by ECLAC noted the following about our growth prospect for 2012: in the English and Dutch speaking Caribbean, the strongest growth to be posted by countries with natural resources endowment, especially Guyana and Suriname, while the other countries in the sub-region will see growth of between 1.0 per cent and 3 per cent.
The Caribbean Economic Performance Report Jan-June 2012 by the Caribbean Centre for Money and Finance also noted that the commodity-based economies of Guyana and Suriname are expected to record growth in excess of 3 per cent in 2012 and 2013, while Trinidad and Tobago continues to experience slow growth over this period due to continuing challenges to business and consumer confidence.
Meanwhile, Article IV of IMF Surveillance Report of 2011 noted the following:
“Guyana’s future looks brighter despite the many challenges. With a fifth consecutive year of economic growth, Guyana is beginning to lock in gains from recent years of fiscal consolidation. Prudent and sustained macro-economic policies have developed resilience in the face of external and domestic shocks. There are growing indications that the private sector is building up major plans for the exploitation of Guyana’s sizable natural resources while the public sector is proceeding with large investments in infrastructure, including in the electricity sector. Over the medium term, the LCDS should help Guyana compete better on the global stage and unleash opportunities for lowering poverty.”
Let me quote that again, what the IMF said, “…unleash opportunities for the lowering of poverty”. Every piece of evidence here, Hon. Carl Greenidge, has debunked your ramblings about Guyana’s future. None of it comes from the Minister of Finance; all comes from external, independent sources.
Let me give you one more. The World Bank’s Global Economic Prospect Report for 2011, while noting that there are threats to the United States economy and a struggle by European countries, argued that Guyana’s economy is projected to grow by 5.6 per cent during 2013.
The story continues. I have a booklet, which I will publish, on all that is said and is being said about Guyana even as we speak here now.
As a result of our economic success, we are no longer classified as a highly indebted country. Let us speak of the issue of debt sustainability. Listen to this: as a result of our economic success, we are no longer classified as a highly indebted country, but now reclassified as a low and middle-income developing country.
In the international publication, we are no longer characterised by a shortage of critical consumer and intermediate goods such as fuel, food, machinery and foreign exchange necessary to obtain these goods. Instead, we are a nation on the move with an economy that is posting high growth rates and creating great opportunities. We are witnessing return migration for the first time in history.
This is what we call the Guyana dream, and this is the dream we will work after until every single Guyanese inherits a component of this dream. It is time for all of us in this House to strip ourselves of selfish desire. Let us unite. Let us join our hands together and ensure every Guyanese can live the Guyanese dream of owning their own home, the Guyanese dream of having education, and the Guyanese dream of having equal access to health care.
On the issue of building human resource capital, the Hon. Member spoke about this and the lack of human capital. What he failed to realise is that, in this Budget, the Minister of Finance is making available $52.2 billion for expenditure in health and education alone. The ICT strategy, which is aimed at young people and single parents, is testimony to the fact that youths and the vulnerable part of our population form the core group that this Government is seeking to remove from poverty and improve their living conditions.
The Hon. Carl Greenidge just woke up and realised that he needed to say something on pro-poor approach to growth. I wish to send him back to 2006 to the presentation of the Hon. Dr. Ashni Singh so that he could see that the entire medium term strategy of Guyana was premised on the pro-poor approach to growth and development - not only now, the entire medium-term was premised on the pro-poor approach to growth and development.
Let us answer a very important question on the availability of finance. We can say that the Government has a big capital programme. We can say that mining is doing well. I hear this argument sometimes, not only in here, that the construction sector is doing well, but we must beware of a bubble. Yes, we must be careful but let us look at the financial soundness and financial viability of our local financial institutions.
A casual examination of the prudential indicators of financial soundness and stability will reveal that the banking system is adequately capitalised, highly liquid and capable of coping with various risks. As a matter of fact, the ratio for the LFI stood at 20 per cent at the end of December 2012 when the international accepted standard is 8 per cent. Twenty per cent is our ratio when the internationally accepted standard in 8 per cent. This is viability. The local financial institutions remain viable and financially sound. Why is this? It is because of the policies, the institutional strengthening and reforms that the Minister of Finance led in modernising the financial sector of this country.
Having said this, it is not surprising – and I want us to listen to this – that our banking system is ranked 30 out of 142 countries in terms of soundness. We are ranked 30 out of 142 countries in terms of our soundness. Who ranked us? It is not the Minister of Finance who ranked us, but the World Economic Forum of 2011-2012 Report. In other words, our financial reforms are responsible for greater access to credit and at lower cost by the local private sector - not only access, but lower cost. Why do I say this? GDP was 24.15 per cent, during 2012, of lending of advances to business, compared to 14.12 per cent in 2009. The average lending rate – I am not going down that old road, Mr. Speaker, when the average lending rate was 42 per cent – in December 2006 was 13.12 per cent. The average lending rate today is 10.1 per cent. So, not only is the access to capital abandoned, but, more importantly, the cost of capital has also reduced.
The Hon. Member raised the question in terms of the cost and ease of doing business which I am most willingly ready to answer. The Minister of Finance recognises that everything is not perfect. He recognises that in living the Guyanese dream, we need to improve ourselves. That is why he outlined and made it very clear that there are 60 measures that we are going to put in place to improve our ranking on the doing business indicator. We are setting ourselves the target that within five years, once we accomplish the implementation of these 60 measures, we are going to move our ranking from its present position to 80, in line with the Caribbean and Latin America.
Guyana has a steady GDP growth rate of 5 per cent. Let me just edify the Hon. Member. Carl Greenidge. The action plan will be enacted over two to five years and will consist of more than sixty competitiveness and efficiency enhancing reforms which will be implemented in a coordinated manner across ten targeted policy areas, namely starting a business, dealing with construction permits and licences, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting investment, paying taxes, trading across borders, and enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency. Those are the broad areas in which we have targeted measures that will see our ranking improved dramatically in the next five years in the growing business indicator. First they asked us why we are not doing it. Now when we are doing it, they are asking why we have not done it five years ago. Mr. Speaker, come on, what are we doing here?
Poor infrastructure characterised the Guyana that the Hon. Carl Greenidge presided over. He raised the issue of SIMAP programmes that targeted investment and pro-poor approach to growth and creation of wealth. What he did not say, by his usual sleight of hand approach, was that Budget 2013 provides $27.7 billion; 13.3 per cent of the Budget would go towards programmes like that which SIMAP would have implemented.
Let us now turn our attention to structural production transformation. The Marriott Hotel, for instance, would yield a positive net present value of estimated $6.5 million over a 10 year holding period. This is equivalent to a rate of return of 11 per cent. The total value creation or value-added impact of the project is estimated to be approximately $17.4 billion during the construction phase alone.
If you look at the Airport expansion, based on the economic feasibility study, the Airport Expansion Project is estimated to yield an internal rate of return of 11 per cent. The Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) has experienced continuous growth in passenger traffic over the last ten years. The official statistics show that passenger arrival increased from 99,317 passengers in 2001 to 156,910 during 2011, a growth of approximately 58 per cent. During 2012, passenger traffic increased further by 16 per cent, significantly higher than what we experienced worldwide of 5 per cent and in Latin America and the Caribbean of 8 per cent.
Mr. Speaker: What is the source of your references?
Mr. Ali: Mr. Speaker, the source on the arrivals is the Cheddi Jagan International Airport.
Mr. Speaker, let us look now at what the Hon. Member, Carl Greenidge, sought to ignore in his presentation by his usual sleight of hand approach. Let me show you how these measures would ensure Guyana continues to progress and would ensure that the most vulnerable, the poor, are secured and their livelihoods protected.
The Hon. Member referred to this issue of sugar and GPL as a black-hole approach. The Hon. Member said that sugar workers are our problem. Let me say this: if the sugar workers are our problem, it is a problem we happily accept! For us, sugar workers and the sugar industry are not a problem; it is a solution; it is an opportunity for us and for Guyana! At no time will we abandon the sugar workers! At no time will we abandon the sugar industry! Call it our problem; call it bailout; call it black-hole; we are going to stick with it because we believe in it.
In a similar vein, we believe in the bauxite industry and we are going to stick with it; we are going to work with it; and we are going to fix it because we believe! We, on this side, believe in the Guyanese dream. We believe in the vision. We believe in the opportunity. We believe that Guyana comes first and we believe that Guyanese would come first! Nothing that you say would stop us from believing. Nothing that you say would cause us to lose hope. As President Obama said, “Hope is essential for success,” and, for us, hope is the foundation upon which we stand for the future of Guyana.
The $1 billion transfer to assist the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) to implement its transformation plan. The value of GuySuCo to the economy extends beyond financial consideration, that is, the profitability of the organisation. The value of this industry has to be seen in wider macroeconomic context. We must be mindful of the wider socioeconomic implication. It is no secret that this industry employs approximately 18,000 directly. But, more importantly, it supports at least 100,000 indirectly, that is, 24000 households. Do not call it a dark hole. [Hon. Member: It is.] Don’t! These are the lives of people in 24,000 households. Do not say that it is our problem. Members cannot be responsible and say that. Let us be responsible. People are looking at us. People are listening to us. Let us provide the leadership that people want us to provide. Join us, Hon. Carl Greenidge. Let us be nationalistic for once. Let us let this policy work for the people. Let it safeguard the industry. One hundred and twenty thousand Guyanese depend on it.
Furthermore, GuySuCo owes in excess of US$100 million. If the Corporation is allowed to fail, there will be considerable foreign exchange loss to the economy. The impact on foreign exchange currency market would have wider implications for national economic well-being. It would threaten exchange rate, Mr. Nagamootoo, and price stability with implication for the import of critical capital and consumer goods. Declining foreign earnings could trigger depreciation in the exchange rate.
Let us now look to the support for the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) Inc. The $5.8 billion to support GPL cash flow requirements represent an effective subsidy of approximately $34,940 per consumer per annum. Are you saying, in rejecting this subsidy, that you are going to deny the ordinary Guyanese of that incentive where the Government is taking up a cost of almost $60,000 on their behalf? Of course, Mr. Speaker, they must concern themselves because this subsidy is what is going to mitigate cost increases and against price increases. Or, is it that the Hon. Carl Greenidge is saying that we must allow the 28 per cent increase to be passed on to the consumer? We say, “No!” The gains from the economy must be translated into benefits for the vulnerable and poor, and that is why that subsidy is there.
The Hon. Member asked what benefit it will bring to GPL. The capital injection would also reduce line losses by 2.2 per cent and translate into savings amounting to $596 million annually. For Linden electricity, there is a subsidy of $2.2 billion. This will translate to a subsidy of $279,801 per customer.
Old Age Pension
Old age pension was defined as old age pension by the Hon. Member, but the old age supplement is not a pension. The old age supplement is given to ease the burden of the vulnerable persons in our society, especially the elderly. What is the real value? The real value for the more than 42,500 citizens, who are the elderly, is not only the increase of 25 per cent. If one adds the subsidy for water and the subsidy for electricity, one is talking about a real benefit of $18,745 for every pensioner. That is the reality. It is $18,745 per month, Hon. Khemraj Ramjattan, not $15,000.
The Hon. Member asked about tax reform. Although we have not gotten the report as yet, the Government is sticking to its commitment to have reforms that will bring benefit to the society.
If one looks at companies, and let us assume that a company now owns net properties amounting to $40 million, under the previous structure, the company would be required to pay taxes of $276,000. Under this new structure, that company would only be paying $187,500 in taxes. These are small companies.
Property Tax on Individuals
Under the old structure, assuming it is the same $40 million, companies would have been paying $231,250. Under the new system, it is substantially reduced by almost $35,000.
Mortgage Interest Relief
Let us look at a low income earner in the upper unit, as defined by the banking sector. When one applies the mortgage interest relief, one would see that if that tax earner – we are talking about young people owning homes for the first time – takes the cost savings, as a result of the interest rebate, and apply it to the principal, they would save two months’ money every year. When that is translated to a 25-year loan, a person is saving almost four and a half years from the loan payment time. If that is put into cash and 48 months is multiplied by $40,000 per month, one will get the cost saving that will resound to the young people who are first-time homeowners.
I wish to turn to tourism. Let me be the first to say I agree that we need to solve, in a holistic manner, the issue of airlift for Guyana. We have to solve it. We must find that solution and the Government is aware of this. That is why we are launching a public/private group which will go to Atlanta, where most of the head offices are, to negotiate and find that solution for Guyana. We need to create a new culture. We need to create a culture for the tourism sector. We need to understand what the value of a tourist is. In understanding the value of a tourist, it will allow us to understand the magnitude of change that we need to make in our culture with regards to how we treat tourism.
We are going to start that process. We need to remove barriers in the tourism sector. That is why the investment in the new airport and the investment in the hinterland airstrips are important components of the Tourism Development Action Plan. Nowhere else in this region can a municipal airport boast of an average of 100 takeoffs per day. The Ogle International Airport can boast of 100 takeoffs per day. Name one other municipal airport that can boast of that.
Performance in the Sector
Tourism arrival in Guyana increased by 12.6 per cent, only surpassed by Mexico with 13.5 per cent. This is the statistics of the Caribbean Tourism Organization. Room stock moved from 1,716 in 2006 to 3,000 in 2012. The Marriott Hotel would add 197 rooms.
To verify the fact of the increase, Kaieteur National Park has had an increase of 142 per cent in 2012 over 2006. Arrivals at Kaieteur National Park were 2,754; arrivals in 2012 were 6,667. Let us use a private enterprise. In 2006, Arrowpoint Nature Resort had 2,880 visitors. In 2012, Arrowpoint Nature Resort had 3,840 – an increase of 33 per cent.
It is now time for us to focus on our image. We have to develop an image for Guyana, that image that will sell us to the world; that image that will drive traffic to us.
Let us look at some of the potential that exists. These are the testimonials from articles and celebrity visits:
“Guyana – Avatar on Earth”
This was said by Bob Payne from Condé Nast Traveler.
“Guyana is South America’s biggest little secret.”
That is from BBC Wildlife Magazine.
That is from Mike Weedon, Bird Watching.
“In God’s Garden”
That is from Wonderlust Travel Magazine.
“If you want to see wildlife, Guyana wins hands down. It is just stunning.”
That is from Mike Russell, People and Wildlife Manager, Sussex Wildlife Trust.
“This is a lovely country. Kaieteur Falls is magnificent and I heard that you have to drink the water to return. I will definitely do that.”
Who said this? It was Ms. Leila Lopes, former Miss Universe. [Interruption]
Mr. Speaker: Hon. Members, allow the Minister to speak. I am not getting to hear him. Could you repeat the last reference?
Mr. Ali: I want to say this: the cultural change for the tourism sector must start here. Here it is I am describing the positive image of Guyana in the eyes of celebrities and listen to the behaviour from the Members on the other side. How are we going to move forward?
“This is an amazing country. The people are warm and there is so much beauty here. I will tell all of my friends to make a trip to Guyana.”
That is from Miss Anna Maria Horsford, an American television and film actress.
“The spirit of ecology is everywhere. The children are very proud. Their environment… which is often found in today’s world. My trip showed me a new way of travelling. Kaieteur is an untouched splendor. Amazing to find such an incredible sight that is still so pristine.”
Appearing on the Late Show with David Letterman, on 27th June, 2012, actor Channing Tatum shared details on his intense ten-day excursion that he took into Guyana’s rainforest. This is what he said:
“It was truly one of the most beautiful things I have ever done.”
We must drive traffic to Guyana and we want to target our Diaspora aggressively. We have launched the Rediscover Home campaign. We are taking this very seriously because that market has a potential number of tourists in excess of one million persons. It is our view that we can target, in the first two years, at least 30 per cent of that market. In doing this, we are creating packages around national events and holidays. Several packages were developed to encourage this and they are being advertised in the international media.
We also have to target new markets, develop holiday packages, targeting backpackers and students for adventure tourism. To this end, we have a team of young volunteers who will go to the University of West Indies and they are going to try to lure students to this amazing adventure in Guyana, so that they can come here and enjoy their summer vacation.
Sport fishing, the yachting rally, late in September, and the birding festival are all part of special markets that we are targeting. There are 13 new tourism projects that are currently underway with a total investment of GYD $39 billion. Triple A Investment, Da Silva Grand, Windjammer International, Oxford Flight, Roraima Duke Lodge, Platinum Inn, the advanced Guyana Pegasus, Millennium Manor, and Mackey Hotel Swimming Entertainment are all part of this grand plan in which more than $39 billion from the private sector would be invested into the tourism sector.
I wish to turn quickly to housing. Our vision remains a nation housed in sustainable settlements. In Budget 2013, the overriding objectives of Central Housing & Planning Authority (CH&PA) for 2013 are premised on the following:
1. Continuing to facilitate access to decent housing by all Guyanese;
2. Increasing the ability of Government to address the needs of special groups for sustainable and affordable housing;
3. Enhancing the ability of homeowners to improve and expand existing shelters;
4. Consolidating and expanding partnerships for sustained growth of the housing sector;
5. Providing houses to target groups, vulnerable [inaudible] moderate income;
6. Continuing to stimulate local economic development;
7. Create the environment for transitioning; and
8. Empowering communities through participatory planning and development.
In terms of squatter regularisation, we had a total of 216 areas to be regularised. A total of 171 areas have been regularised so far, representing 79 per cent. Forty-five of the areas that are not regularised are along what we consider to be zero tolerance zones. Approximately 800 households are to be located along these zones and it is our task this year to commence that process.
In terms of our allocation, in the last five years, we have been able to allocate 28,582 lots. Remaining in the system, applications to be processed remains at 30,000 so we still have some amount of work to do. The average age of a house lot allottee is 35 years old. These are young people, young professionals.
In addition to this, we will continue to host the International Building Expo. The turn-key houses have been a hit. As a matter of fact, we have constructed almost 300 of these homes and the demand for these homes is increasing. That is because, through economies of scale, we are able to construct these homes at an average cost of $6,000 per square foot when the national cost is about $9,000 per square foot. We are constructing homes for professionals at $7,000 per square foot when the national cost is almost $10,000 per square foot.
We have developed many partnerships – the public/private partnership, the partnership of professional groups, partnership with clerical service sector workers, partnership with construction companies and hardware suppliers, and partnership with financial institutions.
It is our hope that through these partnerships we will be able to target specific groups, meet their needs, and fulfil their expectations, their decent expectations of owning their own homes, of realising the dream of their families living in their own homes and turning their own keys. It is this great Guyana dream that we will work hard to realise. On behalf of the many young people who would be first-time homeowners, I want to publicly thank the Minister of Finance and staff for ensuring that this measure was put in place to accommodate, fulfil, and advance the dream of these young professionals and young people.
For the very vulnerable, poor, and less advantaged, we will continue our core homes project. We will continue to ensure that we reach out to that group and that we fulfil the dream of that group, for all of us have dreams. We will ensure that we create infrastructure, that we build a mechanism, and that we implement the mechanism so that every single Guyanese would not only dream of, but will be part of, homeownership and advance their lives.
I wish to turn, briefly, to the water sector. We have developed a strategic plan for the water sector that will see the company break even in the next five years. Our objective is to ensure that the company breaks even within the next five years.
We are going to try, in that plan, to reduce non-revenue water from 65 per cent to 35 per cent, increase treated water coverage from 49 per cent to 80 per cent, develop an integrated water resource management strategy, improve energy efficiency, improve sewage disposal efficiency, and increase collection ratio from 70 per cent to more than 80 per cent. I am brave enough to put the targets that we have set ourselves because we are confident that we are going to achieve it. We are confident and we will hold ourselves accountable to the achievements of those goals and targets. But, we hope that the Opposition would facilitate the accomplishment of this target by giving its support to the Budget and by ensuring that the budgetary injection is given. [Mr. Nagamootoo: Can we drink the water in Georgetown?] Of course you can.
Let us look at what would be the impact of the investment in the water sector on the economy. The generation of demand for almost 10,000 sacks of cement; the generation of demand for almost 2,500 loads of sand; the generation of demand for almost 15,000 cubic metres of stones; the demand for nearly 5,000 metres of greenheart timber; demand for almost 25,000 thousand pipelines, which would have a direct linkage to the manufacturing sector where the growth in local production of pipe and pipe fitting would grow by almost 7,000 pipelines...This is the impact of this Budget. This is what this Budget brings to our people. This is the hope it creates.
I want to conclude by saying that all of us, this afternoon, must band ourselves together. We must send one message out there with one voice and that is that all of us in here care about the Guyana dream. All of us want to be a part of the Guyanese dream and from today we are launching operation Guyanese dream. From today, let us all live the great Guyanese dream.
The Hon. Minister of Finance noted, in his presentation last week, that Budget 2013 makes provision for everyone, including the 42,500 old age pensioners who will be part of that dream; the 184,000 taxpayers who would benefit from a reduction in personal income tax rate and will be part of that dream; the low income households and young professionals with first time mortgages will now be able to repay their mortgages in shorter time periods, resulting from the mortgage relief, accomplishing their dream of home ownership; the 18,000 workers directly attached and more than 100,000 indirectly will benefit from the fiscal support to GuySuCo, realising their dream of a decent standard of living; hinterland communities will benefit significantly from the land titling and demarcation programme; hinterland scholarship programmes to benefit more than 388 hinterland students realising their legitimate dream of decent education. This is the Guyanese dream; the dream that was never there; the dream that this Government has ignited in all of our Guyanese brothers and sisters.
Single parent mothers will now be able to access a first-time loan under the expanded Women of Worth (WOW) Programme. Over 64,000 school children will continue to benefit from the School feeding programme - the Guyanese dream.
Small and medium scale businesses will receive collateral guarantees, interest subsidies, grants, development services, which include management and technical services training.
More than 166,000 customers of GPL as well as 10,363 consumers of Linden will continue to benefit from subsidized electricity; the legitimate dream of having access to electricity. Businesses and private individuals with significant net assets will now benefit from the adjustment of the property tax regime. Some 180 street dwellers to benefit from the completion and operationalisation of the centre for rehabilitation and reintegration; some 200 elderly persons who reside at the Palms Geriatric Institution will now benefit from improved care; over 2,500 young people will now benefit from training under several skills training programmes; $1.7 billion set aside for the University of Guyana, will benefit students pursuing various areas of studies.
It is this dream, it is this hope, that we have built this budget. This hope for a better Guyana, this hope for an improved Guyana; this hope that all our people will prosper; all our people will have improvement in their lives. It is this hope that will drive us along the dream that will see every Guyanese accomplishing their ambition right here in Guyana. Together we will, together we must; together we will move forward, together we shall. I commend Budget 2013 to this House. [Applause]
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