Mr. Speaker, I rise to move the motion for the approval of the Estimates of the Public Sector and the Budget for the Financial Year 2021. In doing so, I wish to indicate that Cabinet has recommended that the National Assembly proceed upon this motion, pursuant to Article 171 Paragraph 2 of the Constitution of Guyana.
Mr. Speaker, Budget 2021 is the first full-year budget presented by this PPP/C administration, since we were given a new mandate by the People of Guyana in the historic March 2, 2020 general and regional elections. It comes after the emergency budget of 2020, which was prepared under a compressed schedule, and arrived in this House well into the second half of the fiscal year, as a result of the protracted struggle to defend democracy last year.
That emergency budget delivered on this PPP/C Government’s promise to provide immediate protection and relief to the long-suffering People of Guyana and breathe some life into the then moribund Guyanese economy. Together with the subsequent appropriations approved for the year, Budget 2020 provided for $7 billion of COVID-19 relief cash grants to households across Guyana, $2 billion of one-off grants to public sector employees, and $1 billion in year-end bonuses to front-line workers in the health sector and the disciplined services. It reversed punitive and draconian tax measures, such as the value-added tax (VAT) on electricity, water, and cellular phones, and it restored a subsidy on water charges for senior citizens.
Measures aimed at jump-starting economic activity included the removal of VAT on exports and on machinery, equipment, and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) for mining, forestry, agriculture, and manufacturing. Additionally, corporate taxation was removed on private providers of education and healthcare, thereby incentivising investment in these sectors. An injection of $7 billion was also provided to recapitalise the sugar industry.
Please see attachment: Budget Speech 2021