– must demand a presence at the table – Finance Minister
For the first time, youth representatives from the 10 Administrative Regions were invited to participate in shaping a national budget. This unprecedented move occurred with the recently announced $230B 2016 Budget.
The encouraging discussions which took place between Finance Minister, Winston Jordan and the nation’s youth moved him to have this be a permanent feature of the consultation process for future National Budgets.
In an interview with Kaieteur News yesterday, Jordan said that it is important for the nation’s youth to be part of the process and emphasized that “the youth must also demand a presence at the table.”
According to the Finance Minister, “We were particularly encouraged by our interface with them, as it gave us a firsthand understanding of many of the issues that are of immediate concern to youth. They brought with them refreshing perspectives and inspiring thoughts that resonated with the ‘fresh approach’ which the Coalition Government has been advocating.”
He said that in his 2016 budget consultations with youth representatives from each Region, he was heartened to hear about their ideas for their own development, such as the creation of youth empowerment hubs and innovative work spaces.
Jordan said that their concerns included the lack of skills training, need for career guidance, inability to qualify for loans, especially in the hinterland areas, to name a few.
“I want to let them know that I listened attentively. I considered their requests for support and in addition to the millions allocated within various sectors to support youth development, we will work to establish a more permanent funding structure for entrepreneurship and micro-lending for persons under 30 years, as a special Youth Investment Fund.”
On the consultations issue, Jordan continued, “It is an approach we commend to the Opposition, who, though invited to budget consultations, found it inconvenient to attend. I thank all participants and wish to remind that our door remains open to anyone who would like to make a meaningful contribution to the development of our society.”
The Finance Minister further noted that the platform for Budget 2016 is anchored on the five pillars outlined in His Excellency President David Granger’s New Year’s Speech. These are summarized as; National Unity, National Infrastructure, National Institutions, National Security and Public Services.
On the topic of National Unity, Jordan said that Government intends to implement policies aimed at reducing, if not eliminating, division and divisiveness in the society; and foster a more harmonious environment. In this year of jubilee celebration, he said that Government will also strive to reaffirm Guyana’s motto – ‘One People, One Nation, One Destiny.’
With regard to National Infrastructure, Jordan said that plans are in place to foster integration between the coast and hinterland, with a view to increasing access to the resources of the hinterland so as to accelerate the country’s development.
The Finance Minister said too that programmes are also being rolled out this year to strengthen Guyana’s national institutions in furtherance of a stable legal and constitutional environment, and will pursue democratic renewal at the Local Government level to empower the citizenry to better administer their communities.
Jordan also stated that Government intends to strengthen the national security network to better protect the country’s patrimony and its citizens from both internal and external threats and aggression.
With regard to Public Services, the Finance Minster asserted that measures will be adopted to improve and extend education, health, sanitation, pure water supply, electricity services, safe and secured communities, affordable housing, adequate recreational facilities, and social protection to vulnerable and disadvantaged groups.
In keeping with these pillars and the direction in which Government intends to steer the economy, the theme of the 2016 budget is, “Stimulating Growth, Restoring Confidence: The Good Life Beckons.”
Jordan had explained during his budget presentation in the National Assembly last Friday that this theme highlights the imperative of growing and ‘greening’ the economy in an atmosphere of renewed hope and expectation for an improved quality of life of the citizenry.
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