…agrees two terms needed to realise ‘good life’
Coalition member, Alliance For Change (AFC), is pleased with the 2018 budget presented by Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan. The Budget takes into account the fact that the broader economy has not performed as anticipated in 2017.
AFC Leader and Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, said that Government ministers are pleased with their budgetary allocations, especially about the programmes set to roll within his Ministry in 2018.
“I believe that as a party and as a coalition member, we are quite pleased with the budget. It is a midterm budget which means it wouldn’t contain all of the exciting things of a first year and so it is quite wholesome. In particular, we as ministers have received adequate resources to do our work,” Trotman told Kaieteur News.
In the mining sector, Minister Jordan announced that the mining and quarrying sector is projected to rebound in 2018, expanding by five percent. This growth will be driven by the bauxite, gold, and quarrying industries.
The bauxite industry is projected to produce 1,897,205 tonnes, resulting in an increase of 23.3 percent. Gold declaration is budgeted at 736,000 ounces, an improvement of 3.3 percent, as a result of favourable prices, as well as measures by regulatory bodies to improve recovery rates and ensure compliance.
Other mining is anticipated to grow by 3.8 percent, premised on increased activity in the construction sector. Additionally, Government has agreed to a reduction in the Tributor’s Tax from 20 percent to 10 percent, with effect from January 1, 2018. Government has also agreed to the replacement of the current two percent of the gross proceeds regime with a sliding scale percentage that is based on the price of gold.
“I would say that the sector is ecstatic about the measures that we heard and some of the unpopular ones from last year have been reversed and so we are very happy,” Trotman stated.
However, Trotman alluded to the underperforming economy which has influenced budgetary allocations in 2018.
According to figures provided by Minister Jordan, by the end of 2017, the overall real growth rate for 2017 was projected at 3.8 percent and by mid-year, an economic growth rate of 2.2 percent was achieved, up from 2 percent for the same period the previous year.
In the Mid-Year Report, laid in the National Assembly, the projection for 2017 was revised downwards to 3.1 percent, on account of expected weak performance in the mining and quarrying sector, and the sugar and forestry industries.
The projected outturn for real growth of the economy, in 2017, is 2.9 percent, which is lower than the revised projections at mid-year for 2017.
“I can say for all of the ministers, we recognise that the economy has not performed as well; I wouldn’t say that it has performed badly. Therefore, like every budget, what we had proposed was not in every instance agreed upon and so we have found a way to work with what we have in anticipation of much better to come,” Trotman stated.
The 2018 budgetary presentation was made under the theme, ‘the journey to the good life continues’. Minister Jordan has pointed out that coalition administration will require multiple terms to deliver on the promise of a ‘good life’ for Guyanese – a deviation for their original stance on the campaign.
Trotman stated that President David Granger as recent as mid- November spoke of two terms.
“We have mapped out in the first instance a ten-year plan and by no means would we expect to get to the final destination. The President always speaks of a ten-year plan. So in the first instance we see ourselves in government for a minimum of two terms,” Trotman noted.
The Government has boasted of being able to maintain a manageable debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio, well within the internationally-accepted limit for countries at our level of development. At 45.2 percent of GDP, it is believed that Guyana has one of the lowest debt ratios in the Caribbean.
Guyana anticipates accelerated economic growth with oil and gas sector on the verge of take off, but many observers have cautioned that the new discovery must be managed properly if the country is going to be lifted out of its current ranking as one of the poorest economies in the western hemisphere.
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