Georgetown, GINA, March 16, 2016
The Coalition Government presented its second budget on January 29, 2015, three months earlier than budgets are usually presented in Guyana. Addressing the press at the Ministry of Finance today, Finance Minister Winston Jordan promised that under his watch, this will be a tradition as opposed to a one-off event.
The Finance Minister expressed the view that, “no budgeting can be said to be proper if it does not necessarily start before the budgeting period.” According to Jordan, this has been a grave error of Guyana over the last three decades.
Guyana’s constitution provides for a fiscal budget for a financial year to be presented as late as March. However, Jordan believes this has been over-used. “I do not think that anywhere in the world, you can have a situation where permanently, a budget can be expected to be coming out as late as three months into any fiscal year,” he explained .
According to Jordan, the coalition government is hoping to, “bring some sanity back” by having the budget presented earlier. “We are promising to repeat it (the early budget) in every successive year in this our first term in office,” he assured.
Drawing attention to the many positives of having an earlier budget, Jordan noted that persons are happy to see the budgetary allocations early rather than having to wait until late April or early May.
The finance Minister also noted that with an early budget the Government can stretch out disbursement over a longer period, and this helps in terms of borrowing. He explained that when the government has to make massive lump sum disbursements when the Budget comes out in late April, then the country is forced to play catch-up.
Jordan also noted that an early budget allows for people to take better account of factors such as rainy season, and when to go on leave. “In the past, because you bring a budget out in April or May, you have to hold all those people and it has an impact on your resources again because you have to tell them they cannot go on leave … and a lot of people are stressed not knowing whether they can book their ticket early,” he noted.
Questioned as to why some (people) were saying they were not seeing the positives of the early budget, Minister Jordan replied, “It depends on who you are talking to…some people give you a negative outlook because this is (influenced by) people who they hang with or listen to and some others give you a negative outlook to throw you off.”
“…we are not saying things are rosy…we say things are looking up,” the Finance Minister said.