Processing of one-off $25,000 public sector grant to commence immediately-Finance Minister

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, December 31, 2020:

Following the announcement earlier today by His Excellency President Irfaan Ali of a one-off grant of $25,000 for all public sector employees, Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh has stated that he has already instructed his Ministry to commence processing of the grant immediately.

Following His Excellency’s announcement this afternoon, I have already issued instructions within the Ministry of Finance for steps to be taken immediately to process this grant and my staff within the Ministry have already started that work. Our intention is to ensure that public sector employees receive this grant immediately, so work is ongoing as we speak to ensure that processing is done as swiftly as possible,” the Senior Finance Minister assured.

The Minister added that the one-off payment is to be made to all public servants, teachers, members of the Disciplined Services, employees of statutory bodies, subvention agencies and employees of public corporations such as the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO). Additionally, public service and Disciplined Services pensioners will also receive the one-off grant.

This one-off grant will see in excess of $2B being paid to more than 60,000 public sector employees. This grant is being paid by Government in recognition of the hardships that have been faced and the very challenging circumstances that have faced the employees of the public sector and their families,” Minister Singh reiterated.

The Senior Finance Minister noted that the one-off grant not only forms part of Government’s many other initiatives designed to bring relief to frontline workers and to households across Guyana, but is also a mechanism to stimulate economic activity in the country as it will allow for $2B to be placed in the hands of employees in the public sector, who will in turn consume or spend the disposable income in markets, shops, or other businesses within the country. Alluding to other initiatives recently implemented by Government and still ongoing, Minister Singh reminded that the one-off grant is to be viewed alongside and in addition to other recent initiatives such as the 2-weeks tax free bonus announced earlier this month for members of the Disciplined Services as well as essential Health care workers and the Covid-19 emergency $25,000 payment currently being made to Heads of households countrywide.

Put together, the Covid Relief Programme…. the bonus paid to the Disciplined Services and frontline health sector workers and the one-off grant announced today….the sum total of those is more than $10 Billion dollars put in the hands of the people of Guyana,” the Minister concluded.

CDB approves US$190 M Linden to Mabura Road project- US $11.6M Hospitality and Tourism Training Project also approved

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, December 11, 2020:

Following fruitful negotiations with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Government yesterday secured two loans to finance substantial catalytic transformational projects for the country-namely the construction of 121 kilometres of road between Linden and Mabura in Region Ten as well as a Hospitality and Tourism Training Institute to facilitate training of persons to equip them with the necessary skills and qualifications to supply some of the demand required in the country’s Tourism and Hospitality sector.

The US$ 190 M Linden to Mabura Road project comprises a US$112-million loan from the CDB, a grant of £50 million (US$66 million) from the Government of the United Kingdom via the CDB- administered United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Fund, along with US$12 million provided by Government. It is also the largest single project ever financed by the CDB and marks its largest geographic ‘footprint’.

In an invited comment, the Senior Finance Minister expressed gratitude to the CDB as well as the UK Government, especially acknowledging the importance of the UK Government’s grant and the country’s support of Guyana’s development. With Guyana increasingly becoming a hub for international visitors in light of the country’s new status of being a major oil producer and exporter, the Irfaan Ali administration has been placing focus on other productive sectors to ensure they receive the necessary financial support to be able to build capacity in order to accommodate the large influx of visitors and foreign investors. Against this backdrop, assistance in the Tourism and Hospitality sector became critical, thus the focus on construction of the US $11.6 M Hospitality and Tourism Training Institute to allow for international training.

The Institute is slated to be constructed at Providence behind the Guyana National Stadium. Meanwhile, the Linden to Mabura Road forms part of the wider development of the Georgetown to Lethem corridor and is estimated to provide direct employment in both the short and long term as well as advance sustainable livelihoods of small and medium enterprises operating at critical communal points in the project area including the Great Falls Indigenous Village and the Mabura Hill community. It should also improve connectivity and contribute to enhanced trade as well as ground transportation between Guyana and Brazil. The road is expected to be upgraded from a fair-weather road to an all-weather asphalt concrete one and would include new drainage infrastructure with enhanced capacity to mitigate the effects of flooding. Both projects had been conceptualized under the PPP/C Government prior to 2015 and had been in the pipeline since.

New Finance Minister assures: Notwithstanding inherited gloomy state, Guyana will see a turnaround – ‘PPP/C has a track record of sound economic management’

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, December 4, 2020:

Reflecting on the terrible state of the country’s economy in 1992 when the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) administration entered office and its track record of sound and responsible economic management, Senior Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh has assured that his Government will once again do a repeat of the same this time around.

In some sense, I feel as though we are almost in deja vu …because those of us who are old enough would recall we also inherited a country in which the economy was in disarray with unsustainable levels of debt which then had to be restructured and the public finances had to be literally rebuilt from scratch.

He expressed the belief that it is beyond dispute that the PPP/C has a well-established track record for sound and responsible economic management and for policies that create an environment that is conducive and attractive to investment. The Senior Finance Minister noted that one simply has to look at what was achieved during the period 1992-2015 to remember when the country was returned from the brink of bankruptcy to a state where it was clearly on a path to prosperity. This assurance was given even as Guyana has only completed its fourth month of stewardship by the current administration after a previous five month hiatus of gloom when its citizens experienced a ‘nightmare’ election saga as well as continuous abuse of the Court system during which time its economy continued to spiral downward as there was less and less investor confidence and the political environment was extremely unstable.

Notwithstanding the gloomy state of affairs that has been inherited, we have set about in earnest immediately, to turn the situation around on a number of fronts: First of all, a non- negotiable pre requisite for an attractive investment environment is democracy and respect for the rule of Law. No international investor will come to a country that does not respect democracy, Minister Singh emphasized.

He recalled that ‘the world watched on in disbelief at the events of March-August and the world expressed collectively a sigh of relief when on August 2 President Irfaan Ali was finally sworn in as President-an event that really should have happened two or three days after March 2’.