There have been several criticisms that since the coalition administration took over; Guyana’s economy has been going through a dismal period. In fact, the growth rate for 2017 is projected to be 2.9 percent.
Be that as it may, President David Granger is proud of the strides his government has made in rebalancing the economy. He spoke, yesterday, of the many accomplishments his government has made in this regard.
At a press conference held at the Ministry of the Presidency, Granger said that the Government is at mid-term and ever mindful of its duty to the people. He promised that it will continue to aim at providing a good life for all in 2018.
The President said that the nation’s economy has been prudently managed over the past 30 months. He said that this has allowed for moderate economic growth of 3.1 percent in 2015 and 3.3 percent in 2016, despite the unfavourable external environment.
He added that the government adopted measures to improve the living standards of workers. The Head of State asserted that public servants’ minimum wage increased by over 50 percent within the past 26 months.
Granger said, “The income-tax rate was reduced and the income tax threshold increased by a minimum of 20 percent; measures which boosted worker’s disposable income. The Government has also been working to improve national economic competitiveness.”
The Head of State continued, “National competitiveness has been enhanced by the reduction of the corporation tax rate for manufacturing and non-commercial companies from 30 percent to 27.5 percent.
The Value-Added Tax (VAT) was reduced to 14 percent and the VAT threshold increased from $10M to $15M.
Granger added, “The Government is rebalancing the economy through its support of the micro, small and medium scale enterprise sector, mindful of their potential to generate employment. Loans and grants have been issued under the Hinterland Employment Youth Scheme (HEYS), the Linden Enterprise Network (LEN), the Micro- and Small-Enterprise Development (MSED), the Sustainable Livelihoods and Entrepreneurial Development (SLED), the Women of Worth (WOW) initiative and the People of Worth Entrepreneurial Resources (POWER) initiative.”
The President noted that the Government continued to build its institutional capacity and adopted an appropriate legislative and regulatory framework for the sustainable management of the nation’s natural resource sector, including the emergent petroleum sector.
He said that the government has been strengthening the regulatory framework of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector, digitising education and establishing ICT hubs. Granger also noted that greater impetus to the liberalisation and regulation of telecommunications will be provided through the enactment of the appropriate telecommunications legislation.
The President told the media that the establishment of 53 ICT community hubs across the country will accelerate the extension of ICT-related services.
The President stated that the government is improving the country’s transportation network of aerodromes, bridges, roads, stellings and wharves. He noted that the four-lane extension of the East Bank Demerara Public Road has been completed.
Granger said that village roads of over 100 km have been constructed or repaired. More than 30 hinterland aerodromes have been rehabilitated and maintained he added.
Furthermore, the President said that the Government has restored the people’s participation in local decision-making. He said that local government elections were reinstated along with the establishment of three new towns: Bartica, Lethem, Mabaruma.
The President said, “The Government has strengthened the financial regulatory framework in order to insulate our economy from proceeds of illicit activities. The promulgation of Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism legislation will provide greater safeguards and stronger enforcement to ensure the integrity of the financial system.”
“The Government has re-established and made appointments to institutions required by the Constitution. The appointments of the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission and an Ombudsman; the establishment of a Public Procurement Commission and re-establishment of the Public Service Appellate Tribunal are manifestations of the Government’s commitment to abide by the Constitution.”
He continued, “The Government is committed to improve the conditions in the public education system under which teachers study, work and live and students have to attend school. Improvement in educational attainment requires investment in teachers’ training.
“More than 1,000 have been trained over the past two years. The number of trained teachers, in our schools, has increased over the past two years and now stands at 77 percent.”
The President added, “The Government, in pursuit of the common good, continued to pursue the vision of a Guyana in which diversities are embraced, differences respected and conflicts resolved. It has developed a national strategic plan to foster greater social harmony.”
Additionally, the government has improved the reach, quality and administration of passport, immigration, birth, marriage and death registration services. Granger in this regard highlighted that his administration has reduced the processing times for the issuance of passports and the service is being decentralised to the six capital towns.
He said that that the Government continues to support 215 indigenous communities. These communities have benefitted from a range of community-support initiatives, including Presidential grants, the distribution of school uniforms, the construction of community centres and the provision of all-terrain vehicles (ATV), boats and outboard engines.
The Government also embarked on a process of reform and is revamping the national security architecture. The Government, with the assistance of the United Kingdom, will establish a Department of Security Sector Reform. In this respect, the President said that the security forces are gradually recovering from the demoralisation caused during the ‘Troubles’ of the early years of this century.
He said, “The Government promulgated a National Drug Strategy Master Plan (NDSMP) and established a National Anti-Narcotics Agency (NANA) and a National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) and re-established the National Security Committee (NSC).”
“Guyana is a Nation in transition to becoming a ‘green’ state. The Government established the Department of the Environment to coordinate and regulate the national effort in this thrust.”
The President said that the Government will continue to place emphasis on the preservation of the nation’s biodiversity and the protection of the environment. He said that the protected area system will be expanded by an additional two million hectares. He noted, too, that Government buildings, increasingly, are going to be powered by alternative sources of energy, as part of its ‘green’ agenda.
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