Budget Speech Mrs Chadarpaul - 20121655 11 Apr, 2012
April 11, 2012
Mrs. Chandarpal: Thank you, Mdm. Deputy Speaker, I wish to congratulate the Minister of Finance, the Hon. Dr. Ashni Singh, for presenting yet another people’s budget of the PPP/C Government. I also would like to join with the other colleagues who have spoken in congratulating as well the new Members of Parliament.
Today for me, Mdm. Deputy Speaker, has been a momentous day and it has been momentous in the fact that when I listened to those dynamic presentations of the female Members of Parliament, very young ones, who have spoken today, I feel that those of us who have been in the Parliament for about 20 years will be leaving this institution in very capable hands and we are very proud of the women and what they have been doing today.
Budget time since the PPP/Civic was elected to office has always been one of great expectations. These expectations are fuelled by the people’s knowledge and recognition of our stewardship in steering growth and development in all sectors of Guyana’s development.
The theme of the 2012 Budget, “Remaining on Course, United in Purpose, and Prosperity for All” is in sync with the PPP/C’s developmental agenda.
All Budgets of the PPP/Civic Government have had some major commonalities especially in the areas of macro-economic stability, sustained growth in all of the various sectors, new and innovative programmes and care for the poor and vulnerable.
Our budgets were always about maintaining and sustaining growth in all sectors. This is evidenced by the domestic economy achieving real growth averaging 4.4 % over the past six years with 2011 recording a 5.4% growth rate.
The Hon. Minister of Finance in his presentation spoke to the key achievements over the last five years and referred to a number of achievements. He cited the performance of seven major sectors in which there was growth as much as 68 percent in the bauxite industry followed by gold which recorded a 17.7%.
This growth augurs well for the country since there are still sections of our population who are living below the poverty line and they are in need of assistance in one way or another from Government.
We still have a lot more to do in different areas of development and the initiatives outlined by the Minister of Finance will certainly provide the necessary fillip to these.
The Government would have wanted to provide more assistance in terms of percentage and quantum. Unfortunately, one cannot give more than what one has. We are mindful that the amount allocated to old age pension is attracting attention and we would like to give them much more. However, this is not a once for all action; this has to be sustained and it has to be given in stages as the economy allows.
Those who accuse us of being heartless must remember that it was the PPP/C that removed the means test and now provides for all persons 65 years and older to get a pension and provided public assistance to thousands of people who are faced with difficult situations.
When we refer to social assistance we need to take the collective benefits accrued; whether it is water rate assistance, eye care for seniors, assistance to children – through the school uniform programme – the single parents initiative through the Women of Worth Programme, legal aid; as well as those other initiatives that are available in the other social sectors, such as health education, labour, housing and Ministry of Amerindian Affairs. Some provide direct assistance while others provide the training for upward mobility.
The three Constitutional Commissions have been tasked with the responsibility of undertaking a number of actions on behalf of women, children and indigenous people. This collective approach will definitely help ameliorate hardships and accelerate development in these areas.
The sustained development of the country and its people includes a variety of measures including policies, programmes, measures to protect citizens, access to various types of opportunities, collaboration with civil society, subvention to support those organizations that are providing services to those that are in need, among others.
Those who accuse this PPP/C Government of being heartless must recall that we created the home for destitute people and provided them with food and clothing and we are constructing another shelter at Onverwagt for more such persons. It is our desire to assist them so that they can be fully re-integrated into our society.
The Child Protection Agency is providing a safe haven for children – some whose parents have just brought them into the world and have left them to the mercy of the elements. In this regard, I wish to use this occasion to call on the parents who are abandoning their children to the institutions and who do not even make time to visit their offspring; this is irresponsible behaviour and no amount of finger pointing can negate the fact that some parents are responsible for their children’s downfall.
The PPP/C Government has increased spending in all areas in each year. The overall increases in the last two decades are very substantial, making a significant impact on the lives of large numbers of people with greater needs.
Overall, almost all the people of Guyana are living in improved conditions. Some are still struggling to catch up, but over time they will also be in a better position.
The housing development and the successes of that sector is one we should all be proud of. Not only have we transformed the landscape of hundreds of communities but we have transformed the lives of thousands of people. We have given them a feeling of achievement, of pride and of self worth. The children of today have something to look forward because their parents are in a better place.
When one speak to people and remind them about where we were and where we are today, many will say “You know what? We have been behaving as if we have had all these things for all the time.” Unfortunately, some people take the developments in all the sectors and regions for granted and fail to recognize the improvements.
I wish to use street lights as an example to illustrate the effects it has on communities that have access to it. A lot of you would have experienced Saturday or Sunday nights in almost all of these communities; the same is true for Georgetown and its environs. Tell me, has it not changed the way people interact with each other? Has it not created opportunities for small businesses who ply their trades on the seawall every week? However, there is a cost to this and the state has to take responsibility for the expenses related to this benefit.
Another issue is the theft of electricity, in some areas. There are persons who have not been paying for their electricity and are using it indiscriminately because they are taking it free. So when we come to Parliament and ask for more money for the electricity sector in whose interest is that? Is it not for the nation?
Mdm. Deputy Speaker, Guyana’s economic and social growth is a work in progress. Everywhere and in every sector there are developments. In the process there are difficulties as well and there are things which could be done differently in relation to the quality of work, the value for money spent and the timeliness of needed interventions.
As we note the improvements around the country we must also be mindful of the negative trends affecting the social behaviour of large sections of our population. While we have drastically reduced the numbers there are still too many cases of school dropouts, family violence, incest, alcoholism, substance abuse and other related problems. These are realities, and there is need for more citizens to become involved and take responsibility for their actions and those of their offspring. These are all real issues that continue to confront our society and it calls for collective responsibility and action by all of us.
Our people must understand that Government alone cannot solve all the problems of the people. People everywhere need to take ownership for their development by being more pro-active in the development of their communities and families. While the Government is taking initiatives at the national level to expand our economic base, the people can support these initiatives by being more responsible and involved.
Take the NDCs (Neighbourhood Democratic Councils), for example: some people would prefer not to pay their rates and taxes but yet they want the NDCs to pick up their garbage, weed their parapets, clean their drains and repair roads. When you ask them how much they pay they would say “Oh, well, we pay $2,500 or we pay $3.000 per year”, yet they would not go out and take responsibility for their own immediate environment, cleanliness and well being. Another example of lawlessness is the attitude of some people who are living by the main roadways. They see it as their legitimate right to wantonly dump whatever they want on these roads.
I wish to call on all of us to do whatever is necessary to encourage our respective supporters to be more supportive in their communities in ways that are possible.
This budget and those before under the leadership of the PPP/C is so different from the gloom and doom which characterised PNC’s budgets that the now Shadow Minister of Finance presented when he was Minister of Finance.
Today under the PPP-Civic, there is optimism, growth and prosperity for all. We today have the largest amount of local and foreign companies ever. The Hon. Minister of Finance has pointed to the many prospects emerging for our country especially in the utilization of our country’s abundant natural resources. As seen in the progress in oil exploration, investors are showing great confidence in our country. We today have the largest amount of local and foreign companies ever. We are indeed reaching new levels of realization of the many expectations raised in our National Development Strategy.
The Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper Report 2005 also dealt extensively with some of the steps that would have been taken to facilitate the growth in sectors such as bauxite and gold. The good news is that in 2012 we will see a bigger expansion of these two sectors with even more massive investment. For the PPP/C Government, growth in the economy will provide new springboards for delivery of the social goods to larger sections of our population.
As one of the geographical representative of Region 4 I wish to look at the major projects that will be undertaken by Central Government for this Region in 2012. The Minister of Finance in his presentation spoke to the physical infrastructure for transformation in which he citied some important areas, and these are: the modernization and expansion of the four-lane access road to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, starting in the extension of the four-lane highway from Providence to Diamond; the widening of the highway from Better Hope to Golden Grove on the East Coast of Demerara and the sums allocated is within the vicinity of $2.2B; the upgrade, expansion and modernisation of CJIA to the tune of $4.5 Billion
Region 4 will also benefit from sums allocated for drainage and irrigation work for the advancement of work on the Northern Relief Channel at Hope/Dochfour as well as $391 million have been budgeted for the continued modernization of the Hydro meteorological network.
$1.8 billion will be invested for the installation of a submarine cable linking Kingston and Vreed-en-Hoop, constructions and upgrading several sub-stations.
$672 Million is budgeted for the construction of a 100 bed state of the art specialist hospital at Turkeyen.
$678 Million is budgeted to continue the construction of Haags Bosch Sanitary Landfill.
In 2011 there was a greater emphasis on the improvements of the infrastructure especially in the areas of road rehabilitation, drainage and irrigation work and building of sluices to protect farming communities and those that are prone to floods.
Some specific activities undertaken in this Region are as follows:
• 35 roads were rehabilitated and 5 new ones were built.
• 10 new sluices were constructed and 6 new ones were built.
• Water tanks were distributed to 6 communities.
• New water lines and distribution mains in Yarowkabra, Kurukuru and Eccles.
• Land was acquired for new housing development in Herstelling/Diamond.
• A new power site was constructed at the back of Diamond New Housing Development.
• A nursery and primary school for Diamond.
• 2 borehole facilities in Hope and Area B, Lusignan.
There are a number of rollover projects from 2010 of which 5 are ongoing and 6 have now been completed.
In 2011 there were 18 projects which are still ongoing.
Region 4 will benefit from the $2.755 billion for 2012. This sum will be expended on agriculture, public works, education and delivery of health services.
Region 4 is a hub of activity and everywhere there are developments taking place. Within the last two weeks I have had the opportunity to visit from Cane Grove to Timehri and it is amazing when one drives through all these places to see the type of development that is taking place. We are indeed proud as a nation that we are seeing these types of development taking place in our time.
Mdm. Deputy Speaker, Guyana is on the move and while there are still difficulties we must not close our eyes to the development that has taken place all over the country. As the country advances economically we will be able to provide more goods and services to all the people of Guyana as we move our country from poverty to prosperity. I call on all sides of the House to join me in supporting this budget as presented by the Hon. Minister of Finance. I thank you. [Applause]
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