Government is gearing up to unveil development measures in the 2019 budget. But, before the presentation could be made by Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, a special meeting of Cabinet was convened to pour over the various allocations.
The exercise was carried out in the absence of President David Granger who is in Cuba receiving medical treatment.
To date, the Coalition Government has delivered four National Budgets in three years. Each outlining the government’s development agenda to 2020, and several of the policies, programmes and projects that Guyanese can expect, “in pursuit of the good life”.
Previous budgets were presented in 2015 – $221B; 2016 – $230B; 2017 – $250B and 2018 – $267.1B.
Budget 2019, which will be tabled in the National Assembly in another two weeks, is expected to be based on the theme of transformation for sustainable development and green growth towards achieving the good life.
This Budget will be presented in a less than favourable international economic environment. Global economic growth has been revised downwards due largely to the negative impact of trade tensions and higher oil prices.
Minister Jordan had previously expressed satisfaction with the pace and tone of the 2019 National Budget consultations.
Jordan has stated this year that budget proposals submitted to the Ministry of Finance lead to more questions than answers. At the opening of the Ministry’s first 2019 Budget Sensitization and Training Programme, Jordan insisted that budget proposals should be solutions to resolving challenges faced in various sectors.
On this note, the economist laid out several problems which remain without answers. Jordan highlighted that there are increasing allocations to the health sector, but there remains continued drug shortages and less hospital inspections than previous years.
In this regard, the Finance Minister said that health accounts for 12.5 percent of the national budget, in 2018.
The Finance Minister also pointed out that there are increasing allocations to education, but still less than 50 percent of the nation’s children are passing Math and English. He said that education accounts for 17.2 percent of the national budget in 2018, and as such, budget officers must ask themselves what proposal will resolve this.
The Finance Minister noted that heads of budget agencies must be able to competently critique systems that are not working or not contributing to delivering the results. And by critique, Jordan said he wants his officers to offer workable solutions.
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