April 16, 2012
Mr. Neendkumar: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker. Hon. Ministers and fellow Members of this Hon. House, I would like to join with my colleagues in welcoming the new Members to this House and wish them a full five years in this House. For you Mr. Speaker, I am confident that you will leave us a legacy in this new dispensation on how you will keep us together.
As I rise to support this 2012 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 this year’s budget, consistent with the Constitutional provisions of the laws.
I must say that I did offer to my friends, that is, the Hon. Members, Chris and Trevor that they come to the Sports Commission and to the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport. We are willing to show and explain to them what we are doing. For Chris, I would like to tell him that... [Mrs. Backer: Who is Chris?] You got to go to the blacka. Why do you not go and swim in the blacka? You are ten cents...With respect to the multi-purpose quotes that were referred to, those moneys were not taxpayers’ money; they were from the synergies between the Ministry and UNICEF. I can call the areas, Land of Canaan Primary School, Berbice High School, Tuschen Primary School, Covent Garden School, Fortwellington, Rosehall, Wismar, Christiansburg, Mon Repos and J.C. Chandransingh. In respect to the $200 million that was referred to, I can assure him, we can provide him with the long list. Those moneys were not spent by our Ministry, they were allocated to the various regions and then to the NDCs. The Minister has forward it to me and I am willing to give you it.
We must thank all Guyanese for the fact that for six consecutive years our country realised real growth and today we can discuss, in this 10th Parliament, a record presentation of a $192 billion budget. Hence, the team of this budget is indeed appropriate, “Remaining on course, united in purpose, prosperity for all”.
I think when we come to this House we must be honest and truthful – we should be very honest – and I am quoting from what my good friend, Mr. Basil Williams said. The Hon. Members in this House are discussing the last five years and more particularly, the last year’s expenditure, however, this 2012 Budget is significant, since our country will be building on the solid foundation that we now have, thus ensuring the future realises greater and faster success.
This 2012 Budget, which is $192.8 billion, is indeed a budget with an abundance of opportunities and certainly offers opportunities in all facets of the lives of every single Guyanese throughout this vast and diverse country of ours. I listened attentively to the presentations so far and I am also following the media and it is sad to know how misleading some presentations were. The media coverage by some sections of the press is most misleading. In the last Sunday Stabroek News a former Member of the National Assembly, who sat during the 9th Parliament on that side of the House, in an infantile presentation, presented to the readers that the PPP/C allocated a mere $221 million for capital development in Region 10. The writer of that letter failed to let the public know that in 2011 this caring and responsible Government subsidised electricity to the tune of $2.3 billion in Region 10. He failed to let the public know that the people in Linden are not using gas stoves, so they do not buy cooking gas or kerosene oil. They are living with the luxury of using electric stoves.
I want to be specific in respect to Region 10 and that is why I am going to tell you that in the year 2011 this Government allocated to Capital Works for roads, $396,600,000 and for Current Expenditure $39.9 million; for water, it allocated for Capital Works $344.4 million alone for Region 10; for housing, it allocated $134 million for Capital Works; and for education, it allocated $90.7 million for Capital Works and $1,107,000,000 for Current Expenditure.
I want to pause here. When I talk about honesty I want to remind those on the Opposition, our Comrades must be fair. There is a young kid by the name of Andre Allen who was the top student for the Common Entrance Examinations in Region 10 last year. I was in Linden over the last weekend and the people in Linden were very concern about the fact that you have a teacher sitting here from Linden and because of jealously, none of them had the courtesy to call the child’s name and congratulate that child. That child Andre Allen must be congratulated. We must congratulate the teachers from Linden for doing a good job. We must congratulate the parents. The teacher is sitting right here, the Hon. Member, Vanessa Kissoon... [Interruption] ...She did not congratulate... [Interruption] ...Mr. Speaker, further on that I want to let you know that they used that kid... young Allen was used on the platform of the APNU... [Interruption]
Mr. Speaker: One second Hon. Mr. Neendkumar. Hon. Member I really expected a Member from the Opposition to rise on a Point of Order, because a claim or a charge was made that out of jealously, Members of Parliament, who are teachers, failed to congratulate a student who did well in Region 10. So without anyone who is a teacher rising to take the Point of Order, I would say that that statement is out of order, because failure to compliment or to congratulate someone or to not do so, I do not know how you could have made the quantum leap to say that that is attenuated by jealously. I would ask that you withdraw it and move on.
Mr. Neendkumar: Mr. Speaker I will reword the last statement, but I was saying what the people in Linden told me.
Mr. Speaker: That may be a different matter. Mr. Harmon is on his feet. Go ahead Mr. Harmon.
Mr. Harmon: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a Point of Order. The statement that the Hon. Member, Mr. Neendkumar has made is totally inaccurate. I do not know if Mr. Neendkumar did not understand what the people told him or what they told him was not accurate. But what I am saying is that when young Allen became the top student...
Mr. Speaker: The point of order please, Mr. Harmon.
Mr. Harmon: Mr. Speaker, the Point of Order is: the child was congratulated and the teacher that the Hon. Member is talking about was there.
Mr. Speaker: Okay thank you.
Mr. Harmon: She was there, The Leader of the Opposition and I were there. So it is not true... [Interruption]
Mr. Speaker: Thank you very much. One second Mr. Neendkumar. On the basis of the statement of a Member of this House that the child was congratulated in the presence of the Hon. Member Ms. Kissoon and the Leader of the Opposition, I would expect that that would be the truth, unless you can refute it. I would ask you to withdraw the statement, unless Mr. Neendkumar – you are being encouraged to refute it - if in fact it turns out to be the truth and you are just going to refute it on the basis of encouragements, there are going to be repercussions I must say. I will give you an example, when I first joined the Guyana Bar Association, as a member, I was told that the word of a lawyer have the weight of an affidavit and when it is given it carries that weight. So if it is that a Member of this House has stood and said that he, in the presence of the Leader of the Opposition and Ms. Kissoon, visited and congratulated the student, unless you can refute it, be very careful. Thank you.
Mr. Neendkumar: Mr. Speaker, I have that type of respect for your Chair and whatever you say to do I will do, but I want to make myself crystal clear... [Interruption] ...I was specific. I want to be specific, that in this House, during the debates, none of the persons speaking from the Opposition mentioned the kid’s name, none of them. That is my point and the kid was used on the platform for them conveniently during the elections campaign. I want to be very specific. Here they did not do it. I am very honest Mr. Speaker... [Interruption]
Mr. Speaker: Mr. Neendkumar, if in fact that is correct, that during the debates the name was not mentioned, that is permissible. Proceed.
Mr. Neendkumar: In respect to health, this Government ... Mr. Speaker, I will have to get my time back right... [Interruption] ...$32 million was spent for Capital Works in health and a further $231 million was spent for current expenditure. In the agriculture drive this Government spent $29.9 million for Capital Works. This did not include the Kwakwani Utility Inc. which got a subsidy of $325 million; it does not include that the Linmine Secretariat received a subsidy of $2.5 billion nor does it include the current expenditure for housing, water and agricultural drive. I am saying this because what I am asking for is that we speak the truth. Do not come here and just pompazette.
For this year, I want to congratulate the Finance Minister and his hard working staff for their analysis. We have decided for Capital Works this year, the people of Linden will get $108.5 million and $44 million for Current Expenditure; Water, they will be getting a sum of $472 million for Capital Works and $515 million for Current Expenditure; for Housing, Minister Ifraan Ali is prepared to give them $267 million for Capital Works; and for Education, they will be getting a further $100 million for Capital works and $1,188,000,000 for Current Expenditure. This is not included again in this Budget, that the Hon. Minister of Finance is saying that Kwakwani Utility Inc. will receive a subsidy of $230.9 million. They also have a subsidy for the Linmine Secretariat in this Budget for $1.8 billion and this does not include the recurrent expenditure for the Housing, Water and the Agricultural drive.
We must face the facts; this is a Government for the people of this country. Region 10 [Mrs. Backer: The people rejected you at the polls and that is the fact] Well the people rejected you and we will take you to the blacka. Everyone who has worked in the Bauxite Industries knows that the industry became unprofitable since 1982 and it deteriorated under the last PNC administration. The poor condition of both plant and mining equipment resulted in the heavy loss of market during the 80’s and early 90’s. In 1985, we had a financial intervention of $34.5 million, ECU by Sysmin (Systems of Mining Products); we had financial intervention in 1991 by the World Bank, Sysmin; and the European Investment Bank provided a further US$23 million in credits in that phase for the use in the Initial Restructuring Phase of the (IRP). Despite abundant assistance by the PM (Prime Minister) and because of the poor management and weak governance by the PNC, bauxite production for Linmine fell by more than 45% in 1991-1992 and continues to drop thereafter, despite many plots, which was brought in under the PNC’s administration to manage the industry in an attempt to make it survive.
It is this PPP/C Government that took the bold position in June 2003 to have the Linmine operations managed by Cambior, a Canadian company who owned Omai Gold Mines, Omai. Bauxite Mining Inc, (OBMI), as an interim measure until the PPP/C was able to better organise the financing for the full joint venture through privatisation. In December 2004, the Linden Bauxite was privatised by joint shares with Cambior having 70% shares and the Government of Guyana 30% shares. The Cambior shares were sold to BOSAI in China in the year 2007. Today the PPP/C and the workers of Linden can boast that BOSAI is running the Linmine operations at a profit over the last three years.
The Berbice operation is also a success story. BCGI (The Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc.) is also administering a highly successful business. Only last week the Prime Minister Cde. Samuel Hinds and the media were in the Berbice River where we witnessed the arrival of approximately $25 million in equipment. Today, the Berbice operations which is producing 1.5 million tonnes of bauxite, is looking at producing 5 million tonnes annually, more significant is the fact that approximately 2000 more persons will gain employment.
A careful look at the period under review reveals that there was significant development in Region 10. The LEAP project which was the brain child of the former President, His Excellency Dr. Bharat Jagdeo provided tremendous development to Region 10 in the value of millions of dollars. Rehabilitation and extension of West Watuka farm to market road; installation of culverts at West Watuka; rehabilitation of Moblissa road; rehabilitation of three sluices/kokers at Burnham Drive; construction of Spreightland Bridge and Mr. Speaker I can continue.
We are extremely proud to know the fact that the first call centre was built in Linden where we have over 150 young people presently employed.
Investments in Linden – Bai-Shanlin Wood/Timber Processing Company invested US$10 million; Sunshine Timbers Wood/Timber Processing Company invested US$5 million; Arawak Shoe Factory invested GY$20 million; Sebra Wood invested US$75,000; Toucan Connection invested US$510,000; and GNIC Container Yard invested US$855,000 preparing for the Linden/Brazil operation.
With respect to Region 4, as a geographic Member of Parliament representing the people of Region 4, I am pleased to report to this Hon. House, that based on the performance of the PPP/C Government, particularly during the 9th Parliament, our people are living a far better and healthier lifestyle. All of us in this House and the people in the country must agree that our drainage and irrigation systems are far more developed and capable of making our people live with less floods. Hence, our people’s kitchen gardens and farmstead are far more productive. Gone are the days when our citizens were forced to traverse bad roads and fetch water on bicycles, go-carts, donkey carts and on their heads. Thanks to this accountable PPP/C Government we have made it a robust asphalt road and persons are getting pure water from their taps in their houses.
Under the PPP/C Government our young people and many who never thought they would ever own a house, are buying house lots and with low interest rates they acquired loans to build their own homes. Thanks Minister Ali.
I want to give some figures in respect to Region 4, in response to what they are saying... [Mrs. Backer: Who are they?] What Mr. Aubrey Norton wrote, you all do not want to face the fact. Region 4 development – In 2011, roads and bridges - $2,988,000,000 for Capital Works and Current Expenditure $44 million; Capital Works for Housing and Water, $1,229,000,000; Education, $808 million for Capital Works and Current Expenditure $1,861,000,000; Health, $456 million for Capital Works and Current Expenditure $251 million; and Drainage and Irrigation (D&I) $357 million for Capital Works and $84 million for Current Expenditure.
For this year I am hoping that good sense will prevail and in togetherness we will allow this to pass. Roads and bridges $2,584,000,000 in Capital Works and Current Expenditure $50 million; Housing and Water, $917 million for Capital Works; Education $743,306,000 for Capital Works and $2,015,000,000 for Current Expenditure; Health, $875 million for Capital Works and $270 for Current Expenditure; and D&I, $2,419,000,000 for Capital Works and Current Expenditure $87 million.
This is the tentative ... [Interruption] [Mr. Lumumba: Mr. Greenidige, have you ever given out so much money?] Alright, we will talk about Mr. Greenidge now. May I take this Hon. House back to the Hon. Mr. Greenidge’s Budget speech in 1992, page 22 3rd paragraph... [Mrs. Backer: Source?] The Hansard.
“Comrade Speaker, one of the evils of rampant inflation has been the marked upsurge in destitution and homelessness...”
These were Mr. Greenidge’s words. On page 63, the last paragraph:
“In 1992 the Central Housing and Planning Authority has been allocated $29.5 million, namely for the execution of housing related projects, including the regularisation of squatting areas.”
Anyone travelling from Georgetown to Rosignol or Georgetown to Timehri can be nothing but amazed by the development these areas had under the PPP/C Government. The new housing schemes, our schools, health centres, along with our water and electricity, particularly our roads are all achievements all Guyanese are proud of.
It is undeniable that the last five years during the last Parliament has been a time of tremendous development in sports. However, allow me to quote from the Hon. Member, Mr. Carl Greenidge’s Budget Speech, 1991 page 53, 2nd paragraph:
“This year promises to be an exciting one for youths and sports. Three important events which came readily to mind as the celebration of youth week... the national school athletics championship and our preparations for the participation in the Pan American games...”
And I continue to quote:
“An allocation of $16 million has been made for the expenditures associated with youth and sports. In excess of $7.5 million had to spend on the acquisition of sport gears...”
I do not have a problem with that.
“...and the construction of five boxing rings.”
We are still looking for those boxing rings... [Interruption] He has that in his Budget speech, I am quoting from his budget speech. Permit me to quote from Mr. Greenidge’s 1992 Budget speech, page 65, paragraph 2:
“In order to help with the problems faced by the youths in the community, this year’s programme contains $19 million for development of youths and sports.”
I will like to thank the staff of the Parliament for providing me with this good information from the library. Thank you very much Mr. Isaacs.
Today we can rejoice over the fact that the Guyana National Stadium at Providence is a state of the art stadium that has put us at the helm of the Caribbean...
Our Aquatic Centre at Liliendaal allows Guyanese to boast that we have the best Olympic size swimming pool in this part of the world, further we are to complete this. I have confidence, this is a gold medal that had been earned earlier this week by Jessica and I am quite certain that she will go to the Olympic and get a medal.
The Racket Centre at Non-Pariel is in the process of reconstruction. However, this did not stop our Guyanese squash players from crushing the Caribbean challengers in our master show piece squash show. Our youths dominated the junior tournament. Our long tennis players were begging for proper courts, today we have two courts and our players are making maximum use of the facilities.
Through sports we are displaying new energies and optimism for our country. Under the newly developed sports policy, we anticipate an even more remarkable improvement in our sport facilities and the performance of athletes in the near future. We have established a $100 million annual sport run to support the development of sports. This has allowed us to provide support to teams going to represent Guyana abroad and even more importantly, allowed us to develop sports and physical activities in our schools and communities.
This Government provided land for the construction of the headquarters of the Guyana Olympic Association and the National Karate School to build judo. Through our Ministry, coaches have been employed fulltime and they are now available to schools and community based clubs.
I am about to let this Hon. House know that we have three world class coaches presently in this country and expect this number to increase dramatically in the near future. We have a swimming and boxing coach from Cuba and we have a swimming coach from Japan. We are indeed proud to know that we have working in our Ministry, our own Guyanese, super-cat, the most successful cricket captain, Clive Hubert Lloyd.
We kept our promise and to the delight of our stakeholders, the special track at the National Park is in perfect shape after it was fully resurfaced and hundreds of Guyanese are enjoying their daily exercise, while our cyclists are training on a better surface.
Our Government believe in inclusiveness, hence, the synergies between the National Sports Commission and the Guyana Volleyball Federation yielded the highly appreciated new floor at the Gymnasium.
The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport, under the astute leadership of Dr. Frank Anthony can reflect that during the period under review, Guyana hosted highly successful Caribbean Table Tennis Championships, Caribbean Squash Championships, Hockey Championships and we all say let us congratulate our football team, that we have never reached this height, as we are waiting to qualify to play in the Brazil World Cup. International cricket, international boxing and international ruby, we have hosted all these last year.
Former President, Bharat Jagdeo must be recognised for his tremendous contribution to the development of sports and sports facilities, in particular, in Guyana. Over the years several sports associations, sports teams and sports personalities received tremendous assistance from President Jagdeo’s direct intervention. The Ministry of Cultural, Youth and Sport is collaborating with several other Ministries to create a significant impact on social issues in Guyana through sports. The alliance with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education is developing rapidly and our people’s realness of the necessities and the importance of a healthy lifestyle is quickly growing...
This Government’s spending on sports must be fully supported... [Interruption]
Our PPP/C Government is presently constructing... [Interruption]
Mr. Speaker, I commend this 2012 Budget and I want to ask this National Assembly to please support it. Thank you very much. [Applause]