Nov 28, 2017 News
. Old age pension increased by $500
· Over $2.9B to support Local Government Elections
· Economy projected to meet 2.9 % growth rate
· Govt. to bring all property values up-to-date
· $14.3 billion allocated for road upgrades
· $250 million works on stellings at Bartica and Leguan
By Kiana Wilburg
Under the rubric, “The journey to the good life continues,” Finance Minister, Winston Jordan, presented to the nation yesterday, a $267.1B budget. This is a 7.1 percent increase over the revised Budget 2017.
During his delivery to the National Assembly, Jordan said that the overall real growth rate for 2017 was projected at 3.8 percent. By mid-year, 2.2 percent was achieved, up from two percent for the same period the previous year.
The economist recalled that the 2017 projection was subsequently revised from 3.8 percent to 3.1 percent. Jordan attributed this to weak performance in the mining and quarrying sectors, and the sugar and forestry industries. He projects that by the close of the year, the economy will achieve a 2.9 percent growth rate.
The Finance Minister said that the Agenda for 2018 is a product of Government’s reflections on lessons learned and the unstoppable march to achieving the “Good Life.”
Jordan reflected on the performance of various sectors for 2017.
He said that the rice industry is expected to record an output of 602,087 tonnes for 2017, an increase of 12.7 percent over 2016.
Sugar production is projected to decline to 152,000 tonnes in 2017, a 17.2 percent reduction compared to 2016’s output. Jordan said that opposition to the ongoing restructuring of the sugar industry led to the loss of almost 22,000 man days due to industrial action.
He said that $6.3 billion has been allocated to support the reduced operations of GuySuCo, next year.
Preliminary estimates indicate that the livestock industry is projected to grow by 4.4 percent at the end of 2017, compared to a decline of 5.8 percent in 2016.
The forestry sub-sector is expected to show some improvement with a projected slowing of the contraction to 7.2 percent in 2017, from 27.3 percent in 2016. Total production for 2017 is projected at 297,070 cubic metres, 10 percent lower than 2016.
Mining and quarrying sector is anticipated to contract by 1.9 percent, compared to the 46.1 percent expansion in 2016. Gold declarations are expected to remain stable, bauxite production and other mining will decline by 2.3 percent and 12.6 percent, respectively.
Over the years, the services sector has grown in importance and now represents over half of Guyana’s GDP. This sector is expected to grow by 3.1 percent in 2017.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS
Jordan said that next year will see the second Local Government Elections in two years. He revealed that over $2.9 billion has been put aside to support the work of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
Jordan also spoke to the issue of outdated land values which he insisted, must be addressed. He said that Government recognises that Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) and municipalities must be financially self-sufficient, if they are to deliver and maintain quality public goods and services to their constituents.
He said that Government will be exploring the possibility of conducting a country-wide valuation exercise to bring all property values up to date, so that NDCs and municipalities are equipped with appropriate revenue streams to deliver their mandate.
The Finance Minister said that the bauxite industry is anticipated to benefit from added productive capacity as a new mine is slated for construction at Bonasika, in 2018. He said that approximately US$50 million is expected to be sunk into this project, which is expected to employ more than 150 workers.
He said that the mine should commence production in 2019.
In 2018, the Finance Minister said that manganese is expected to be in production, thus contributing to economic growth for the first time in over 40 years. Jordan said that preparatory works, including the rehabilitation of roads, has already begun, and about 1,200 persons will be employed during the construction phase.
In the area of Infrastructure, the Finance Minister revealed that the government has made an allocation of $35B to support development across the country. Of that amount, $14.3 billion will be devoted to the construction, rehabilitation, upgrading, and maintenance of the nation’s road network.
In ensuring that balanced growth occurs across Guyana, Jordan revealed that Government will continue to place emphasis on servicing riverain areas and utilizing under-exploited river ways. In this regard, he said that $250 million has been allocated, in 2018, for the upgrade of stellings at Bartica and Leguan.
As it relates to improving the quality of water supply, the Government has allocated $3.2 billion, 9.7% above the projected amount for 2017. In 2018, another $178.6 million will be expended to further improve the nation’s capacity to handle solid waste.
In the area of Public Security, Jordan revealed that the Government has allocated $30.7 billion to implement several initiatives. The Prison Service will receive approximately $1.5 billion to address the expansion and rehabilitation of the prison infrastructure.
This work will include the expansion of the Mazaruni Prison to accommodate 400 inmates, or 61 percent more than its current capacity.
Work on the construction of a new Georgetown Prison is likely to begin in the New Year. The Finance Minister said that over $150 million has also been allocated to purchase surveillance equipment, body scanners, and beds, among other items.
Jordan said that provisions have been made for the strengthening of the Prison Service’s capacity for case management, as well as rehabilitation and reintegration. $1.8 billion has been provided to cater for the Prison Service operational costs, a 4.6 percent increase over Budget 2017.
The Government also showed its commitment to the elderly. It increased old age pension from $19,000 in 2017 to $19,500 for 2018.
The Palms, one of the 20 care facilities in the country, has been allocated $50 million for building repairs and additional funds to purchase a wheelchair accessible bus.
Going forward into 2018, Jordan said that the Government will commence the development of the country’s first ever Strategic Plan for Elderly Care, which will tangibly articulate related interventions to be undertaken in the medium term towards improving the quality of life for the elderly.
TARGETS FOR 2018
Minister Jordan said that the real growth of the economy is targeted at 3.8 percent for 2018, with the non-sugar growth rate anticipated to be 4.6 percent. He said that the Government anticipates that growth across all sectors, with the exception of sugar, will allow this target to be realized.
Jordan said that growth in the agriculture, fishing, and forestry sector will be driven by the expected expansion in the various subsectors, except sugar. Building on the solid performance in 2017, he said that the rice industry is expected to expand to 617,353 tonnes, an increase of 2.5 percent.
The forestry subsector is expected to grow by eight percent to 320,760 cubic metres, as the reallocation of concessions continue, new concessionaires establish operations, and stimulus measures are put in place in 2018.
The livestock and fishing subsectors are projected to grow by two percent and 2.3 percent, respectively, driven by consumer demand. On the other hand, sugar production is expected to contract by 24 percent to 115,447 tonnes.
The mining and quarrying sector is projected to rebound in 2018, expanding by 5 percent. This growth will be driven by the bauxite, gold, and quarrying industries.
Despite the expectation that rice and other manufacturing will expand in 2018, by 2.5 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively, Jordan said that the decline of the sugar industry will depress the overall growth of the manufacturing sector, which is expected to remain virtually the same.
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