Highlights

Senior Finance Minister meets with Commonwealth Secretary-General

-cooperation, collaboration in key areas discussed

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, January 11, 2022: Senior Finance Minister Dr. Ashni K. Singh today met with visiting Commonwealth Secretary-General Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC and her delegation at the Ministry of Finance where the two officials discussed cooperation and collaboration in a number of key areas.

During the meeting, Minister Singh welcomed the Secretary-General and her team to Guyana and indicated that the President Irfaan-Ali led Government continues to believe strongly in the Commonwealth’s relevance and its importance in the current contemporary situation in Commonwealth countries such as Guyana.

“Even when we were in Government (before) we could recall there were a number of important pressing global problems whereby the Commonwealth played an integral role. Our issues in Climate Change was one example but there were other things like the Multi-dimensional Vulnerability Index. In particular, the Commonwealth has demonstrated a unique leadership on Small States issues and that is in particular, a topic that we feel very strongly about,” Dr. Singh said.

Minister Singh noted that there is a long list of areas in which Guyana would have benefitted through the Commonwealth (in terms of support) with two at the top of the list being the role the Commonwealth played in supporting Guyana’s fight for its democracy in 2020 and the issue pertaining to Guyana’s relationship with Venezuela.

For her part, the Commonwealth Secretary-General noted that the current period is a new era where small States have a pivotal role to play with Guyana’s leadership being of particular importance in terms of its current approach to development as it is not only focused on oil and gas but also on developing other areas (sectors).

She added that Small States despite possessing only small voices, will be very powerful especially since the small States have demonstrated graphically the consequences of Climate Change. With Guyana being both a part of CARICOM as well as a part of the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth Secretary-General also noted that the country will be a major focus of the Commonwealth in terms of its management approaches as this may serve as a model for other small States.

Meanwhile, other areas discussed (in which both teams can cooperate and collaborate) included debt-management, good governance and anti-corruption, information communication technology in terms of digital solutions for effective financial management as well as the development of upstream petroleum policies.

The Commonwealth Secretary-General was accompanied by Director and Head of the SG’s Office, Ms. Deborah Jamieson; Senior Director, Governance and Peace Directorate, Professor Luis Franceschi, Assistant Research Officer of the SG’s Office, Mr. Francis Wanjiku and Assistant Research Officer of the Governance and Peace Directorate, Ms. Fayola Fraser.

Accompanying the Senior Finance Minister at the meeting were Finance Secretary, Mr. Sukrishnalall Pasha, Director of Projects (Project Cycle Management Division), Mr. Tarachand Balgobin, Head (Bilateral Division) Ms. Donna Levi and Head (Debt Management Division), Ms. Donna Yearwood.

‘Not a cent CAN be withdrawn, HAS been withdrawn, WILL be withdrawn without Parliamentary approval -Minister Singh

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, January 7, 2022: Senior Minister in the Office of the President with Responsibility for Finance Dr. Ashni Singh today confirmed that no money will be withdrawn from the Natural Resource Fund (NRF) without Parliamentary approval. The Minister made this clarification on the sidelines of Budget 2022 meetings and preparation, a Budget that will soon be presented to the National Assembly, on a date that Minister Singh has stopped short of disclosing.

Minister Singh explained that though he signed the Commencement Order for the NRF on December 31 last which states: ‘I appoint the 1 st Day of January, 2022 as the date on which he Natural Resource Fund Act shall come into operation’ that he wished to make it clear that no monies can be withdrawn from the NRF unless there is Parliamentary approval.

“Not a cent CAN be withdrawn without prior parliamentary approval, not a cent HAS been withdrawn and not a cent WILL be withdrawn until approved by Parliament”, Dr. Singh said.

The new Natural Resource Fund Act was assented to on December 30, a day after its passage in the National Assembly. The Law brings legitimacy to the legal framework governing the Natural Resource Fund having replaced the illegitimate and cumbersome act passed by the previous caretaker administration. This Law now allows for substantial improvement in the management of the natural resource wealth of Guyana for the present and future benefit of all citizens. It contains enhanced clauses (replacing defective clauses in the old NRF 2019 Act) including a significant one which provides for the establishment of a Board of Directors that will be responsible for reviewing and approving the policies of the Fund and monitoring its performance thereby separating the management of the Fund from the Minister responsible for Finance. Another key amendment in the new legislation is that the Minister of Finance could face up to ten years imprisonment if he fails to disclose the receipt of any petroleum revenue received by Government in the Official Gazette within three months of receipt of such monies which highlights the seriousness of Government’s commitment to accountability and transparency.

 

New Natural Resource Fund Bill passed in National Assembly

-despite main Opposition displaying thuggish behavior, bullyism in attempts to stall legislation

-after illegally rushing defective old Bill through Parliament following No- Confidence Motion 2018 defeat

-hiding US $18M signing Bonus later claimed to be ‘Gift’ after admitting receipt

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, December 29, 2021:-Even after a former Minister of Finance under its tenure was charged recently with misconduct in public office for a sale at a highly undervalued amount of prime state property and incidentally being the said individual who while holding the post of Finance Minister deliberately did not disclose receipt of a US$18M signing bonus from ExxonMobil and continuing to deny same in the National Assembly until evidence emerged to prove otherwise, the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) party now in Opposition, today chanted in full defiance of the Speaker of the National Assembly in attempts to bully the current Minister of Finance as he stood to commence the debate on the new Natural Resource Fund (NRF) Bill this evening. The new Bill seeks to pave the way for significantly improved management of Guyana’s oil revenue so as to especially ensure greater transparency and accountability. The Bill was tabled by Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh on December 16 last seeking to repeal the NRF Act of 2019.

A recap of the previous Bill:

The former Natural Resources Fund Bill was illegitimately passed by the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) in the National Assembly on January 3, 2019 after a No-Confidence Motion (NCM) was passed in Parliament against that party the month before (December 21, 2018). As such, the then Opposition (People’s Progressive Party/Civic) was not in Parliament when the Bill was approved.

In 2017, there was uproar in the public when it was unearthed that a US$18 million signature bonus had been collected by the then Government. Former Finance Minister Winston Jordan and other Government Ministers at the time had even denied ever receiving this sum until information came to light, exposing that the Ministry of Finance asked the Bank of Guyana to set up a special account in which the amount was to be placed. After reluctant admission by the APNU administration subsequently, the public was still never provided with an explanation as to what the funds were spent on, despite the monies being belatedly placed in the Consolidated Fund as required by Law and after the then Opposition took the matter to Court. With the provisions in the new Act, a situation like this could never repeat itself.

The new Bill passed today contains enhanced clauses, including a significant one which provides for the establishment of a Board of Directors that will be responsible for reviewing and approving the policies of the Fund and monitoring its performance, thereby separating the management of the Fund from the Minister responsible for finance.

Below is a table outlining the major differences between the former Bill and the one which was slated for debate this evening in the National Assembly:

Below is a table outlining the major differences between the former Bill and the one which was
slated for debate this evening in the National Assembly:

Old NRF Bill  New NRF Bill 
  1. Illegitimate Act was passed by Parliament after Government lost its No Confidence Motion.
Tabled by democratically elected Government in Parliament with full powers.
  1. Minister of Finance has exclusive and far-reaching powers. 
Removes extensive powers from Minister and vests them in new Board of Directors.
  1. Uses complex formula to calculate how much can be withdrawn from the Fund, leaving the general public in the dark.
Proposes simple, clear formula that the general public can understand, ensuring complete transparency.
  1. Establishes a cumbersome 22-member Public Accountability and Oversight Committee designed for deadlock.
Establishes a 9-member committee for practical and effective non-governmental oversight. 
  1. Minister responsible for publishing annual, quarterly, monthly reports, operational agreement, investment mandate and instructions and sets penalty of $5 million and 3 years prison time if officers fail to provide   information to the public about the Fund. 
Adds a new requirement that all reports and receipts of all petroleum revenues must be published in the Official Gazette. Failure to comply with this obligation results in a harsher penalty of $5 million and 10 years prison time adding greater incentives for officers to be transparent and accountable.  

One key amendment in the legislation is that the Minister of Finance could face up to ten years imprisonment if he fails to disclose the receipt of any petroleum revenue received by Government in the Official Gazette within three months of receipt of such monies.

The new law will substantially improve the management of the natural resource wealth of Guyana for the present and future benefit of all citizens.

National Assembly approves FMAA Amendment Bill piloted by Senior Finance Minister

-Budget process for Constitutional Agencies to be strengthened and streamlined while preserving their independence

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, December 29 2021:-The Fiscal Management and Accountability Amendment Bill piloted by Senior Minister in the Office of the President with Responsibility for Finance Dr. Ashni Singh was late this evening approved in the National Assembly during the Thirty Fourth Sitting of the Twelfth Parliament. The Bill is expected to strengthen and streamline the budget process for Constitutional Agencies and simultaneous preserve the independence of those agencies. It also includes amendments which will 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.

For example, the Bill amends 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’. It also includes 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. Another amendment seeks to amend section 40 e of the Audit Act to provide for the presentation of the Audit Office Budget.

Prior to this amendment Bill, in January 2021, Minister Singh tabled a motion for an amendment to the Fiscal Management and Accountability (Amendment) Act 2021 which amended the FMAA Chapter 73:02 to allow for the correction of a number of anomalies relating to the budget process applicable to constitutional agencies.

The amendments were as a consequence of a 2015 amendment to the FMAA by the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) during their tenure whereby 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.

Promise kept as Government restores Joint Services Tax-free Bonus

-$1.2 Billion placed in the hands of members of the Joint Services; bonus was taken away during APNU/AFC’s tenure

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, December 24, 2021: In another sweeping move indicating it intends to keep all of its promises, Government has restored the one-month year-end tax-free bonus to all members of the Joint Services. The announcement was earlier this week made by President Irfaan Ali at Base Camp Ayanganna during the Joint Services’ annual Christmas Luncheon where members of the Joint Services were served a special lunch by their Commander-in-Chief. The Joint Services members were elated to receive the announcement and have since been able to access the payments in time for Christmas.

Senior Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh at the Ministry of Finance today explained that the one-month bonus, which was a signature practice of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) during its previous term in office was discontinued when the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) administration assumed office in 2015.

In emphasizing the importance of persons receiving their bonus payments, Minister Singh also acknowledged the efforts of the many staff involved in ensuring that the payrolls of the respective agencies were processed on time. Ministry of Finance staff worked around the clock to ensure that not only all health workers received the $612 million payout announced on Tuesday but also the $1.2 billion one-month tax-free bonus announced Wednesday, which has now been placed in the hands of members of the Joint Services.

The Senior Finance Minister noted that the one-month bonus not only forms part of Government’s many other positive initiatives which have been restored since the PPP/C returned to office in August 2020, but also signifies the PPP/C’s continuous care and concern for public servants who continue to work beyond the call of duty in specific major sectors. Dr. Singh added that notably during the year-end period security is boosted countrywide especially in several shopping zones and therefore those in the security sector are again working around the clock as well as those in the health sector.

It was just over a week ago that Government completed the processing and paying out of a 7 percent across-the-board increase to all central government employees along with their December salaries which placed $10.5 billion in the hands of 50,000 public servants, teachers and members of the Disciplined Services.

Government Announces Two-Week Tax-Free Bonus for All Health Sector Employees

– a further $612 million placed in the hands of health sector workers

Senior Minister in the Office of President with Responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, today announced that the Government has granted approval for a one-off, two-week, tax-free, bonus to be paid to all government employees in the health sector, at a total estimated cost of $612 million benefiting 9,200 employees in the sector. Minister Singh further indicated that instructions have been issued for the bonus to be paid before the end of the current week.

Recently, at the time that the Government announced the 2021 across-the-board increase for central government employees, Minister Singh had indicated that an amount of $400 million had been set aside to be paid to frontline workers in the health sector who have continued to face extenuating circumstances in the daily discharge of their duties, as our country and the world continue to battle the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In making the final determination on the payout to the health sector employees, Government has decided to make the payment applicable to all workers in the health sector, having taken into account the challenges involved in identifying which specific posts in the health sector constitute frontline posts and which do not.

This latest announcement comes less than one week after the Government completed processing and paying the 7 percent across-the-board increase to all central government employees along with their December salaries, which placed $10.5 billion in the hands of 50,000 public servants, teachers and members of the Disciplined Services, and represents yet another tangible step taken by the Government to improve the circumstances of public sector employees and of all Guyanese more broadly.

Over 50,000 Public Servants, Teachers, Members of the Disciplined Services, and Government Pensioners paid 7 Percent Salary Increase

-Over $10.5 billion in wages and salaries paid out in December

December 18, 2021 – Over 50,000 public servants, teachers, members of the disciplined services, and government pensioners received their 2021 salary increase over the last week. The payment of the 7 percent retroactive salary increase along with the substantive December salaries and pensions placed $10.5 billion in the hands of public servants, teachers, members of the disciplined services, and government pensioners. The Senior Minister in the Office of the President with Responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh had previously instructed that all efforts be made to ensure that eligible persons receive their salaries together with the retroactive amounts on the designated payday, and he had committed in November 2021 that the across-the-board increase of 7 percent salary increase would be paid in time for the Christmas season.

Staff of the Ministry of Finance along with staff of the respective Finance Departments across ministries and regions worked tirelessly to ensure that workers received their December salaries along with the retroactive payments in keeping with the Government’s promise. In emphasizing the importance of persons receiving their pay last week, Minister Singh also acknowledged the efforts of the many staff involved in ensuring that the payrolls of the various agencies were processed on time.

The PPP/C Government has continued to take a multifaceted approach in improving the lives and livelihoods of our citizens. This injection will also stimulate economic activity across the country as the $10.5 billion placed in the hands of employees in the public sector, will be multiplied as workers spend their increase in disposable income in markets, shops, or other businesses across the country.

Recently also, $250,000 one-off cash grant was distributed to each of the severed sugar workers from the Enmore, Skeldon, Rose Hall and Wales Sugar Estates, injecting over $1.3 billion in the surrounding communities.

Since coming into office in 2020, the PPP/C Government has implemented a number of initiatives towards improving the livelihoods of Guyanese in the face of the global COVID 19 pandemic and the real impacts of climate change. In 2020, the Government immediately implemented a COVID-19 cash grant, where $25,000 was disbursed per household. In 2021, the monthly old-age pension was increased from $20,500 to $25,000 and public assistance increased from $9,000 to $12,000. In August 2021, special measures were announced for the provision of a one-off grant of $25,000 to all old age pensioners, public assistance recipients, and persons living with disabilities. The Government restored and increased the Because We Care cash grants of $19,000 to the parents of school age children and further extended the programme to children attending private schools.

Importantly, the Government has also committed $400 million for a special 2021 payout to be made to frontline workers in the health sector who continue to support our heath sector in facing the new and ongoing challenges posed by the COVID 19 pandemic.

The Government assures its continued commitment to continuing to work assiduously to offer a better quality of life for all citizens.

New NRF Bill dismantles APNU/AFC’s architecture for Ministerial involvement and interference

Bill strengthens transparency and oversight

December 17, 2021– The Ministry of Finance has taken note of recent pronouncements made, particularly in a page 1 comment as well as an article carried in the 17 December 2021 edition of Stabroek News, both of which can only be described misguided, hypocritical, and disingenuous.

The comment and article astonishingly express concern about the fact that the Government will be able to choose all of the members of the Board of Directors of the Natural Resource Fund. In doing so, the article conveniently chooses to ignore the fact that the previous NRF Act, which was rammed down the throats of the Guyanese people by the APNU/AFC dictatorship after they had already lost the no- confidence motion, did not even make provision for a Board of Directors. Instead, in the absence of any provision for a Board of Directors, the APNU/AFC model for the NRF was a one-man autocratic show comprising the Minister of Finance as the sole and all-powerful authority, exercising full and absolute control over the Fund.

Under the APNU/AFC model, the omnipotent Minister had exclusive power for the overall management of the Fund, including preparation and approval of its Investment Mandate, preparation of the operational agreement with the Bank of Guyana, as well as determination of the economically sustainable amount and the fiscally sustainable amount that can be withdrawn from the Fund. Bizarrely, the authors of the SN page 1 comment and article do not appear to have any difficulties with this ministerial autocracy that was established by the APNU/AFC under their NRF model, but they astonishingly have a difficulty with the PPP/C model that removes the Minister of Finance from that one-man show and introduces a Board that includes private sector representation as well as a nominee of the National Assembly.

In like manner, the comment also insinuates negativity around the withdrawal rule proposed by the PPP/C’s Bill, without taking account of the ironic fact that, at least under the PPP/C withdrawal rule the author of the SN article is able to calculate how much will be transferred, whereas under the APNU/AFC withdrawal rule the world is in the dark as to exactly how much will be withdrawn. Indeed, until the omnipotent APNU/AFC Minister decides in his sole judgement what the economically and fiscally sustainable amount will be, the entire world will be kept guessing as to what the amount to be withdrawn in any year will be.

The Ministry hereby emphasise that one of the major differences between the NRF Act 2019 and NRF Bill 2021 is that government, by removing the excessive powers of the Minister in the new Bill presented, allows for management of the Fund by the Board of Directors, a Board which will be responsible for reviewing and approving the policies of the Fund and monitoring its performance, thereby completely separating the management of the Fund from the Minister responsible for Finance. In the NRF Act 2019 these functions were the responsibility of the Finance Minister. The Ministry therefore fails to see how Stabroek News could presumptuously conclude that the key policy matters would be exclusively in the purview of the PPP/C administration.

In addition, the Directors of the Board as stipulated under Part III of the proposed Bill (Governance and Management of the Fund) “shall be selected from among persons who have wide experience and ability in legal, financial business or administrative matters, one of whom shall be nominated by the National Assembly and one of whom shall be a representative of the private sector.” The Ministry of Finance is baffled as to why the newspaper would conclude once more that the government chooses all members of the NRF Board and worse yet, how does the media house conclude that matters would be ‘exclusively in the purview of the PPP/C administration and its allies in the private sector and elsewhere.”

Another erroneous statement made by the Stabroek News in its report is that “The Board of Directors would replace the 22-member Committee in the APNU/AFC version of the NRF which was assented to by former President David Granger”.

In actuality, the 22-member Public Accountability and Oversight Committee has been replaced by a 9-member Committee which will include as stipulated in the NRF Bill 2021, and which will include a nominee of the National Assembly; three representatives of the religious community; two representatives of the private sector; two representatives of organized labour; and one representative of the professions. The proposed 9-member composition of this committee is more practical, realistic, administratively more efficient, and would provide non-governmental oversight of the fund. In comparison, the APNU/AFC 22 member committee was designed to be cumbersome and non-functional.

The NRF Bill 2021 will allow for greater accountability and transparency in the management of Guyana’s oil resources, as amendments in the proposed legislation state that the Minister could face up to ten years imprisonment if he fails to disclose the receipt of any petroleum revenue received by Government in the Official Gazette within three months of receipt of such monies. This would avoid situations like in the past where an US$18 million Signing Bonus was illegally diverted out of the consolidated fund.

The spirit and letter of NRF Bill 2021 promotes prudent management of our natural resource wealth for the benefit of both present and future generations. The proposed bill sets ceilings on withdrawals from the fund in every year except the first, specifically to secure savings for the future. However, the immediate need for sound and transformative investments in order to advantageously position our economy to ensure that the benefits from the oil and gas sector redounds towards the wider economy and all Guyanese. The solitary exception of the first year of the life of the fund takes into account the pressing development needs which must be financed, and instead of turning to the more costly option of borrowing from creditors, we can utilize our own resources for the betterment of our people.

Additionally, the mechanism to withdraw funds outlined in the NRF Bill 2021 removes the complexities and hinderances to achieving the Fund’s objectives by providing a simpler, more transparent formula for calculating the ceiling on annual withdrawals. Recall that the NRF Act 2019 was the subject of criticism from many subject matter experts, including the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in its publication entitled “Economic Institutions for a Resilient Caribbean” which includes a detailed assessment of Guyana’s NRF (pages 271). Amongst the observations made by that assessment were that “The formula for the maximum permissible withdrawal is among the most complex operational rules for a resource fund in the world. Its design departs from good practices”. (p. 271)

 

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.

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.