Financial Papers presented in Parliament by Senior Finance Minister

-Funding sought for critical interventions of national importance

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, December 13, 2021: Government today presented financial papers to address a number of urgent interventions across several key sectors including Agriculture, Housing and Water, Health, Education, Public Works and Security, with Senior Minister in the Office of the President with Responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh today making the presentation to the National Assembly as it resumed for its 32 nd Sitting.

The Financial Papers, amounting to over $26 billion, include Financial Paper No 3 of 2021 totalling $5.1 billion which caters for Contingency Fund advances covering the period July 22-December 9, 2021 and provides for a number of interventions, including payment for one off cash-grants to severed sugar workers, Out of Crop support to the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO), cash- grants to private school students, provisions for eight containerized offices and construction of two bridges for the Brickdam Police Station which was recently ravaged by fire.

On Saturday and Sunday last, the Government commenced disbursement of the one-off cash grants of $250,000 each to severed sugar workers with Dr. Singh and Minister of Agriculture Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha spearheading the distribution.

The grant was handed over to sugar workers at four estates- Enmore, Skeldon, Rose Hall and Wales. The grant was first announced by Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo during a meeting with severed workers earlier this year and forms part of Government's commitment to rebuilding and restructuring of the sugar industry and providing direct relief to the people of Guyana.

The closure of the estates under the previous Government had left thousands of workers on the breadline, resulting in the sudden death of village economies where the estates were located. As a result of the disbursements, over $1.3 billion will be injected into the estates’ surrounding communities.

Meanwhile, in relation to cash grants to children attending private schools, it would be the first time that this initiative was implemented. President Irfaan Ali, in September last granted approval for the Because We Care cash grant to be extended to parents of children attending private schools.

With respect to Financial Paper No 4 of 2021, $21.47 billion is being sought, including supplementary funding of $755 million for countrywide drainage and irrigation interventions as Government continue to address the impact of flooding across the country. President Ali recently activated a Cabinet-level Task force to respond to the current rainy season, so as ensure that there is a proactive and coordinated response and mitigative systems are in place and functional.

The Supplementary paper also seeks $7.7 billion to support the acceleration of the National Housing Drive. Notably, Government has surpassed the targeted allocations of 10,000 house lots by end of 2021 and is on the path to achieving the Manifesto promise of 50,000 house lots allocated by the end of the first term in office. Relatedly, $1.1 billion is provided for the upgrade and expansion of Coastal and Hinterland Water supply.

As Government continues with its aggressive infrastructure agenda, funding is sought for the Sheriff to Mandela Road Project, critical sea and river defense works in several areas and reconstruction of bridges at Issano and Bamia. Funds for the Baggage Handling System at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) are being sought in Financial Paper No. 4 as well.

Other allocations that are being sought include medical supplies to continuously address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, resources to support Amerindian Development projects and programmes, as well as funding for the rehabilitation of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in the aftermath of fire in November last. Additionally, Financial Paper No. 4 is seeking funding to help clear arrears to the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) Incorporated and payment on the mobilization advance on the City Hall Restoration Project.

These Financial Papers, which are seeking funding for a number of urgent interventions of national importance, will be debated during the next Sitting of the National Assembly slated for December 16, 2021.

Senior Finance Minister tables FMAA Bill to streamline Budget process of Constitutional Agencies while preserving their independence

-to prescribe manner in which Constitutional Agencies’ budgets are approved and withdrawals made from Consolidated Fund among other adjustments

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, December 13, 2021: -An Amendment to the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act (FMAA) to ensure further streamlining of the budget process in relation to Constitutional Agencies was today tabled in the National Assembly by Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh.

The Bill seeks to amend the FMAA Act Chapter 73:02 for the purpose of ‘prescribing the manner in which budgets are approved and withdrawals are made from the Consolidated Fund in respect of Constitutional Agencies’. Additionally, the amendment aims to ensure accountability and sets out the practice and procedure to which these Constitutional Agencies must conform in the management of their subventions for the efficient discharge of their functions.

The amendments are necessary as they serve to streamline the Budget process particularly in relation to constitutional agencies while simultaneously ensuring the preservation of the independence of the agencies.

The Bill intends to include amendments such as an amendment to section 15 of the FMAA to require that an annual budget proposed to include a motion in compliance with article 218 and 222 A of the Constitution.

Meanwhile, another amendment seeks to amend section 40 e of the Audit Act to provide for the presentation of the Audit Office Budget.

In January last, Minister Singh had tabled a motion for an amendment to the Fiscal Management and Accountability (Amendment) Act 2021 seeking to amend the FMAA Chapter 73:02 to allow for the correction of a number of anomalies relating to the budget process applicable to constitutional agencies.

Arising from the 2015 amendment to the FMAA by the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC), constitutional agencies’ budgets were required to be sent to the National assembly in advance of the submission of the rest of the National Budget. This two-stage process resulted in a fragmented and inefficient process for consideration of the National Budget and denied the Parliament an opportunity to view and consider the budget in a comprehensive manner.


Government of Guyana and United Nations sign 2022-2026 Co-operation Framework Agreement

10 December, 2021 – The Government of Guyana and the United Nations (UN) System today signed the new regional Multi-Country Sustainable Development Co-operation Framework (MSDCF) for the English and Dutch-speaking Caribbean covering the period 2022-2026. The agreement was officially inked by Senior Finance Minister Dr. Ashni K. Singh and the UN Resident Coordinator, Ms. Yeşim Oruç.

The MSDCF is the primary instrument for planning and implementation of the UN development activities delivered by over 20 UN agencies, funds, and programs towards the fulfilment of the 2030 Agenda in the participating countries, including Guyana. It was developed in consultation with governments, regional organizations, the private sector, development partners, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders.

At the signing, Hon. Dr. Ashni Singh, Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, reaffirmed government’s commitment to the advancement of Agenda 2030 and the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He then highlighted that the UN MSDCF Agreement’s pillars are in alignment with government’s principles and added that this was an indication of its strong commitment to the established global principles.

On referring to Pillar 2 that speaks to the issue of “building resilience to climate-induced and natural hazards”, Minister Singh said that Guyana is part of a tiny minority of countries where the majority wake up every morning below sea-level. He explained that this situation causes the country to expend extraordinary amounts of fiscal resources to construct a physical defence against rising sea levels. Meanwhile, Dr. Singh said that successive generations of Guyanese have recognized the perils associated with cutting down their forest and kept it intact. He cautioned that domestic action alone will not suffice to contain the scourge of continued rising sea levels and added that the fight against climate change is a good illustration of the importance of multilateralism and global action.

The Minister further stated that government remains strongly committed to the sustainable management of natural resources while at the same time, intends to address the very pressing development imperative that the country faces. He stated that on the regional agenda, a subject that is closely related was that of agriculture and food security and noted that on this government’s return to office in 2020, the administration set about renewing its advocacy on the importance of agriculture and food security, not only globally, but in the region and in Guyana. Minister Singh mentioned that President Ali was asked to resume the portfolio responsibility for agriculture, a position previously held by Guyana. He emphasized that agriculture is an extremely important part of Guyana’s economic diversification strategy in which the country has already started to promote an aggressive agenda, with large scale food production, and has also begun to advance its agro processing and business agenda to unlock some of the persistent barriers to intraregional trade in agricultural output.

Minister Singh reaffirmed that Guyana continues to value partnerships and relations with the UN and looks forward to the translation of the development co-operation framework into national action plans for the process of implementation.

Also present at the signing ceremony was Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Honourable Gail Teixeira, who recalled that this government struggled to achieve democracy in 1992 and 2020. She further explained that with the help of global partnerships this administration was able to overcome the obstacles. For this reason, she therefore emphasized the role of global partnerships in the preservation of democracy and its important link to development.

Meanwhile, the Honourable, Hugh Todd, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation endorsed Guyana’s commitment to multilateralism and its support for global governance. He noted that inking of the agreement is a demonstration of our collective efforts towards the attainment of a better global environment.

The UN Resident Coordinator, Ms. Yeşim Oruç stated that “this important partnership agreement between the UN and the Government of Guyana reinforces our shared commitment to the achievement of the Global Goals and to mobilize the UN to accompany Guyana’s remarkable development trajectory.”

“Across all the areas of sustainable development, ‘People’, ‘Prosperity’, ‘Planet’ and ‘Peace’, there is great momentum in Guyana. We also know that there is much to be done for Guyana to reach its own national development ambitions. This framework agreement will guide the UN in our efforts to be an ever more responsive partner to Guyana. I am delighted to be signing this cooperation framework today on Human Rights Day and on behalf of the UN agencies, funds, and programs operating in Guyana. My UN Country Team colleagues and I look forward to working with you and the people of Guyana in delivering on this partnership through a range of country programs starting in 2022,” added Ms. Oruç.

The MSDCF is a development cooperation agreement that aims to accelerate progress on the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It promotes diversity, inclusion, and universal rights in national development efforts to ensure that no one is left behind. The agreement identifies common challenges faced by countries in the Caribbean region and positions the UN to complement national development efforts.

Senior Finance Minister congratulates CDB on milestone attained

-as BNTF launches 10th Cycle, US$30.5 M to be allocated across 9 Participating Countries

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, December 13, 2021: During the opening ceremony today for the virtual launch of Basic Needs Trust Fund’s (BNTF) 10 th Cycle under the theme ‘Reducing the incidence of poverty and building resilience, through an inclusive community development approach’, Senior Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh while delivering remarks, first congratulated the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) on the milestone achieved of serving the Caribbean Region for 42 years as he alluded to some of the work the Fund, under the auspices of the Bank has done in the region. The Minister also commended the Bank for its commitment to the continuity of BNTF and for securing funds to continue the programme.

“BNTF was created with the express purpose of poverty-reduction, and it quickly became well known as the Bank’s flagship poverty reduction initiative. Over the past four decades, interventions have provided access to improved social infrastructure including markets, health posts, resource centres and schools; provided first time access to potable water; improved roads, bridges and footpaths; and provided certified skills-training aimed at enhancing employability and income generation. BNTF initiatives have impacted us all regionally, nationally and most importantly our peoples at the grass roots level,” Dr. Singh posited.

The Minister highlighted the fact that as of February 2017, through the first eight BNTF Programme cycles, over 2,750 sub-projects were implemented to directly impact the lives of more than 3 million people across the region. He noted however that there still remains a number of challenges in spite of these accomplishments.

“Our Region continues to face a vast multitude of development challenges, some longstanding and others new. These include most immediately the COVID-19 pandemic, which has compounded the pre- existing challenges such as climate change vulnerabilities, infrastructure gaps including in such catalytic areas as transport and energy infrastructure, food security issues, global competitiveness and gender equality amongst others. These are issues that pose challenges to our Governments and the Bank. Despite these hurdles, we as Participating Countries have worked diligently to maintain macroeconomic stability, jumpstart our respective economies, deliver national objectives and improve the circumstances of our people, “the Senior Finance Minister said.

Further outlining other accomplishments and challenges faced in Education, Water Access and Sanitization, Basic Community Accessing and Drainage and Human Resource Development (HRD) and Livelihoods, Dr. Singh noted that under the 10th Cycle the CDB will continue to invest and focus on these sectors across 9 Participating Countries.

Also speaking at the event President of the CDB, Dr. Hyginus ‘Gene’ Leon alluded to the CDB’s focus on ensuring that its development discussions center on how the BNTF can strengthen its programme to enhance development outcomes especially given the recent setbacks from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This pandemic has underscored our challenges yet to be resolved, can amplify the impact of shocks that are outside of our control. At the same time, it begs the question of how much more amplification can arise from future shocks if we do not address the compound layering of the impact of COVID-19 and the structural weaknesses that existed before COVID-19. I refer to the poverty, inequality, health and education, economic concentration, low access to affordable financing and inadequate infrastructure challenges of today and the future challenge arising from Climate Change,” Dr. Leon explained.

The CDB President also noted that the launch was quite timely in terms of the end of year period during which it was occurring.

“It is coincidental but quite fitting that this launch is taking place during the Christmas season when focus is on how best to bring hope and goodwill to a world that remains mired in significant economic, social and environmental challenges,” he emphasized.

A total of 30.5 million USD has been allocated under the 10th cycle across the 9 Participating Countries to implement sub-projects. Interventions will be tailored to empower the poor and vulnerable and strengthen institutional development by integrating SDGs and cross-cutting areas such as gender quality and environmental sustainability.

Guyana began receiving Country Project grants from CDB’s Third Programme in 1993 and has continued to benefit consistently throughout the programmes. Minister Singh concluded that BNTF in Guyana has been a success and the benefits and rewards through the many interventions in community development and the provision of basic needs to citizens, particularly in rural and hinterland areas, are undeniable. He noted too that looking forward, Guyana intends to build on the lessons learnt and successes from the previous programmes in line with national priorities.

CDB's Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) has for over 40 years invested more than $300 million to fight poverty and improve the quality of life in the poorest communities in the Caribbean.

Finance Minister congratulates Teleperformance BPO on 5th anniversary

Over 1200 new jobs created by BPO sector since August 2020

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, December 6, 2021: -As Government continues to recognize the tremendous potential of the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry and its important role in the economic landscape of Guyana, Senior Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni K. Singh today attended and delivered the feature address at Teleperformance’s 5th Anniversary ceremony at the Pegasus Hotel where he highlighted that the BPO industry currently employs 4,135 persons, an increase of 1,229 new jobs for Guyanese country-wide when compared to August 2020.

The Minister met with Teleperformance’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Luis Baretto and pledged the Government’s continued support to the development of the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Industry in Guyana, recognising Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as key to building an economy for the future and also as an enabler for job- creation. The Minister was accompanied by CEO of the Guyana Office for Investment, Dr. Peter Ramsaroop.

Teleperformance’s CEO Luis Baretto during his presentation, detailed the history and the expansion plans of Teleperformance Guyana, the parent company being the global leader in the BPO industry. Teleperformance currently employs 1200 persons in Guyana (up from 846 employees in August 2020, 50 percent of whom work remotely) and plans to create an additional 1000 new jobs in 2022. Teleperformance’s recipe for success is built on high technology, including reliable and redundant Informational Technology architecture and the company’s focus is on ‘hiring the right people along with continuous training and development’.

During the ceremony, on behalf of President Ali and the Government, Dr. Singh congratulated the efforts of Teleperformance Guyana, even as the country continues to combat the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. He also welcomed the projected expansion plans of the company, including its plan to add approximately 1000 new jobs by the end of 2022, with the possibility of even more jobs as the company explores options for a second facility.

The PPP/C Government has recognised the tremendous potential of the BPO sector and its important role in the economic landscape of Guyana as well as information communications and other technology being key to building an economy for the future and assisting in the efficient delivery of public services. In addition, ICT is a primary employer including through the provision of high value BPO services for the global market place, as well as promoting digital innovation in all sectors. Minster Singh posited that since August 2020, over 1200 jobs have been created in the BPO industry in Guyana.

Dr. Singh expressed his satisfaction that Teleperformance, the global leader in the BPO industry recognised Guyana’s unique advantages and competitiveness as a destination for BPO businesses, including a highly educated workforce, strategic geographic location and the county being a native English-speaking one.

While welcoming Teleperformance’s expansion plans in Guyana and the Caribbean, Minister Singh also urged the company to expand its regional footprint to areas such as Linden, Berbice and Essequibo. Teleperformance has adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic both globally and here in Guyana, where employees who work from home account for 50 percent of total employees. This not only creates employment in hard-to-reach areas, but also facilitates employment of persons who, due to domestic circumstances, cannot attend a physical office set-up. It also lays the ground work for the development of the resource pool in new areas/ regions where new expansion is planned.

Government has expressed its intention to continue to work closely to build and support the BPO industry, creating the necessary enabling environment and improve the ease of doing business. Immediately after assuming office, the Government liberalized the telecommunications sector, leading to increased competition and resulting in some price reductions for data and calling charges. The PPP/C government has also been working diligently to expand the ICT infrastructure and plans to continue to invest in ICT education.

EU-Ministry of Finance discuss cooperation programme

Senior Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh recently met with European Union (EU) Ambassador to Guyana Dr. Fernando Ponz Cantó at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre where the two officials co-chaired an important Policy Dialogue focused on EU-Guyana Development Cooperation. The meeting was a successful step towards further cooperation achievements for the benefit of Guyana’s citizens with discussions focused on the EU’s development cooperation programme with Guyana. The EU and Guyana have an increasingly close partnership, based on common values, objectives and interests covering all matters of mutual interest.

While addressing the meeting, Minister Singh placed on record the strong appreciation of the Government for the EU’s sustained support to Guyana over the years. He also expressed optimism that the strong relationship that Guyana and the EU enjoy will continue to grow in the years ahead as Guyana traverses this new phase in its economic history.

Ambassador Fernando Ponz Cantó pledged the European Union's continued commitment to the EU- Guyana partnership as Guyana advances its development agenda as a new and emerging oil and gas producer. The Ambassador recalled the determination and resilience of the Guyanese people to preserve democratic norms and the rule of law. In particular, he commended the Government and the National Authorising Officer (NAO) for re-establishing this bi-lateral policy dialogue which had been absent during 2020 due to the political crisis and related events, and which is a fundamental element in the full normalization of cooperation including budget support.

Minister Singh then further reaffirmed Government's appreciation for the EU budget support Programme.

The two delegations held wide-ranging discussions that focused on the Government's ongoing investment Programme in the sea and river defense sector, including Mangroves. Both were key areas that underpin EU support over the last decades.

Additionally, Dr. Ashni Singh and the EU Ambassador held preliminary discussion on a new Technical Cooperation Facility valued at €2.73M in which Guyana will benefit from support for the implementation and development of policies to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Possible areas of support include health, livelihood development, biodiversity, forestry, governance and public financial management. The EU team also comprised Mr. Karel Lizerot, Head of Cooperation, and other members of the EU Delegation while the Ministry of Finance’s team included Mr. Tarachand Balgobin, Deputy National Authorising Officer (DNAO).

The EU Delegation in Guyana was established in December 1972 and is responsible for taking forward the EU-Guyana partnership including political, development, and socioeconomic relations, trade, and other major policy areas, based on solid human, cultural and historical links.