The debate that began yesterday in the National Assembly will allow the Government the opportunity to respond to the many persons who have been highly critical of the 2009 Budget.
The Government side will most likely try to deflect the criticisms by pointing to the already hackneyed positives about the management of the economy.
But will the Government benches be forthcoming about some of the controversial issues which have a bearing on economic performance but which have not been adequately dealt with in the Budget Speech?
One of the controversial issues, for example, is the tax holiday that has been granted to Bosai. When that tax holiday was being granted, the price for aluminium on the world market was plunging. Yet, we were told that there were plans for the company to invest one billion United States dollars in an alumina smelter.
I am wondering whether the Honourable Minister of Finance would care to indicate just what is the status of that feasibility study, whether it has begun, if not when it will begin, and when can Guyana expect the construction of the smelter to commence.
I am also asking the Honourable Minister to indicate just how many new, please note new jobs, have been created at the former Sanata Textiles Complex Site, and apart from the printer which produces the Guyana Times newspaper, just what other production is taking place at that location.
I would also ask the Minister to disclose the total extent of the fiscal incentives which have so far been granted to firms operating at that facility and to indicate how much revenue has been forgone in the process.
The Minister of Finance may also wish to put an end to the speculation that Guyana may have lost money in Miami because of the collapse of CL Financial; and while he is at it, he may, as the minister with responsibility for privatisation, provide us with the names of the proposed investors for the hotel in Kingston, and also provide a status report on that investment.
The investment which of course has caused the greatest headaches has been the new sugar factory at Skeldon. There has already been an admission that the problems in the sugar industry were principally responsible for Guyana not achieving its original projected growth rate for 2008.
My question, therefore, for the Honourable Minister of Agriculture is this: what is the present status with the factory? Could we be provided with a technical report as to what the problem is and how soon it is expected to be fixed?
The minister should also tell the nation just what the costs were to test-run the factory, and who is bearing these costs.
In addition, the minister should advise as to who are the members of the team negotiating with the contractors over the alleged breach of the contractual obligations, and what is the state of these negotiations.
For the Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, I would like to ask how many tourists arrived last year. Please, in providing an answer, let there be a disaggregation between arrivals and tourists.
The minister may also wish to inform the House as to what are his ministry’s findings in respect to the price of bread, which was supposed to have decreased following the dip in wheat prices.
The minister was very much animated on the issue of the minibus fares, and one would expect that he would show the same degree of concern over the price of bread.
The minister should also inform the House just how much was earned from the last hosting of GuyExpo, and how much this year’s event is expected to earn.
The Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport should provide an analysis of just how Guyana benefited from the hosting of Carifesta and just what was the final price tab.
Finally, I respectfully ask someone to confirm whether, in the purchase of the two helicopters for the army, there was contact with one of the persons who is now facing charges in the United States in relation to the operation of an air service provider.
And whether, in light of what is taking place, there are plans to launch a commission of inquiry into the acquisition of these helicopters.
PNC demanding answers for smuggled chicken early Sunday morning after church!
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