‘Historic’ and ‘Transformational’ $552.9 Billion 2022 Budget passed by National Assembly

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, February 10, 2022: The $552.9 Billion National Budget presented to Parliament on January 26 was today passed in Parliament following approval of the Appropriation Bill 2022 (Bill No. 1 of 2022) and the Fiscal Enactment Amendment Bill (No. 2 of 2022) and conclusion of five days of debates along with four days of Committee of Supply meetings. During these periods, A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change’s (APNU/AFC’s) Opposition Members went through the estimates and grilled Government officials on all of the various provisions under each Ministry and sector.

Just after the passage of the Appropriation Bill and moments before the passage of the Fiscal Enactment Amendment Bill today, Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh explained to the National Assembly that Bill No. 2 is intended to amend the legislation pertaining to the various tax statutes which required amendments for the purposes of giving effect to the measures included in Budget 2022.

“It would be recalled Sir that there are provisions in Budget 2022 that are intended for example to increase the income tax threshold. That measure was announced in the context of Budget 2022. It was of course I believe adequately and abundantly ventilated during the course of the debate of the Budget. This Bill seeks to give legislative effect to that announcement. It similarly, Sir, seeks to give effect to other tax measures announced during the course of Budget 2022,” Dr. Singh added as he addressed the Speaker and the National Assembly. The Finance Minister then went on to list some of the tax measures including the measure to increase the income tax threshold.

During his presentation under the theme ‘Steadfast Against All Challenges, Resolute in Building our One Guyana’ on Budget Day, the Senior Finance Minister had indicated that this year’s Budget would be “historic” and “transformational.”

“Budget 2022 – if I were to highlight a single sentence to describe Budget 2022 it would really be to say that it will be transformational in the sense that many of the big initiatives that we have alluded to in the manifesto, [and] subsequently in the major presidential speeches, one could easily get a good sense of the main priorities coming out of the manifesto,” Dr. Singh had said.

The Finance Minister in his speech to the National Assembly had emphasized too that this year’s Budget ‘provides for massive investment in infrastructure that will change the face of Guyana forever, opening vast new tracts of land for productive purposes, establishing entire new communities while connecting others and making thousands of Guyanese homeowners for the very first time’.

“This Budget lays the basis for thousands of rewarding jobs to be created for Guyanese nationals, including by leveraging the local content opportunities that are now being created, and it provides for relevant training to ensure that the Guyanese workforce is suitably equipped,” he added.

Dr. Singh had further concluded that Budget 2022 ‘lays the cornerstone for a visible leap in the coverage and quality social services enjoyed by our Guyanese brothers and sisters, including and especially the most vulnerable’.

Budget 2022 is 44.3 percent larger than Budget 2021 and will include the first withdrawals (in the amount of $126.7 billion) to be made in keeping with the new and strengthened legislative framework governing the 2021 Natural Resources Fund (NRF) Act. This amount from the NRF will be transferred to the Consolidated Fund. Importantly, Budget 2022 is being financed without the introduction of any new taxes and without excessive borrowing.

Key measures in Budget 2022 include a strong focus on Local Content and Job Creation especially in keeping with the December 2021 Local Content Act passed in the National Assembly, support for renewal of the industrial and commercial transport fleet, Removal of 14 % VAT from cranes, safety equipment and oil spill response equipment, Removal of 2 percent withholding tax on resident contractors to reverse the punitive measures implemented by the previous Administration, Easing the Cost of Living through the extension of the application of the freight cost adjustment for the calculation of import taxes, a further excise tax rate reduction on gasoline and diesel from 20 percent to 10 percent, Support for the vulnerable through the introduction of a Dialysis Support Programme to finance treatment for dialysis patients, an increase in the monthly Public Assistance payment from $12,000 to $14,000, an increase in Old Age Pension from $25,000 to $28,000, increasing disposable income through a $25,000 ‘Because We Care’ cash grant for each child attending both private and public school and an increase in the monthly income tax threshold from $65,000 to $75,000.

CDB has granted No-objection for Linden to Mabura Road Project- Finance Minister announces

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, February 3, 2022:– Senior Minister in the Office of the President with Responsibility for Finance Dr. Ashni Singh has announced that the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) today issued its no objection for negotiations to commence with the most responsive bidder, Construtora Queiroz Galvao S.A. from Brazil for the award of the Linden to Mabura Hill upgrade project .This project is the first link of the highway between Linden and Lethem. It would provide major support to ease of travel, trade and general connectivity between Guyana and Brazil and open vast opportunities by linking Guyana’s hinterland communities to Georgetown.

The process leading to the award of this contract followed a stringent and transparent procurement process whereby the call for proposals for the prequalification of contractors was made in February 2021. Ten (10) Contractors were prequalified and the prequalified list of contractors was approved by the CDB in October 2021.

Following the prequalification phase, the bidding process began in October 2021 and concluded in December 2021. Of the 10 prequalified Contractors, the following 5 made submissions: China Gezhouba Group Company Limited, China Railway International Group & China Railway No.10 Engineering Group Co., Ltd., Shandong Luqiao Group Co., Ltd., OECI S.A. (OECI) in JV with Castilho Engenharia E Empreendimentos S.A. (CEE) and Construtora Queiroz Galvao S.A.

The bids were carefully scrutinized and evaluated by a team of local engineers. After a thorough evaluation process involving engagements and consultations with the Caribbean Development Bank, Consultant Mott MacDonald and other specialists, Bid No. 5 , Construtora Queiroz Galvao S.A , was determined as the most responsive bid indicating full compliance with all Environmental, Social, Health and Safety requirements. The CDB indicated its concurrence with the recommendation of the Guyanese evaluation committee and issued it no-objection to commence negotiations with the winning bidder.

This project will be the largest project ever funded by the Caribbean Development Bank; and one of the most historic projects undertaken in Guyana.

The road works include upgrading the existing alignment to Asphaltic Concrete Surface – 2 Lanes, 7.2m width, approximately 122Km and the inclusion as well of five drainage structures.

Construtora Queiroz Galvao S.A is a large Brazilian Contractor established in 1966. The Company specializes in the construction of refineries, roads, bridges, commercial offices, residential buildings, highways, and sewage systems worldwide.


National Assembly approves Motion tabled by Senior Finance Minister for Appointment Committee to make recommendation on Parliamentary Nominee for NRF’s Board of Directors, PAOC

-as provided for in new NRF Act

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, January 24, 2022: The National Assembly this evening approved a Motion by Senior Minister in the Office of the President with Responsibility for Finance Dr. Ashni Singh for the Appointment Committee to recommend a Parliamentary nominee to serve on the new 2021 Natural Resource Fund’s (NRF) Board of Directors as stipulated in Part III of the Act as well as for another Parliamentary Nominee to serve on the Public Accountability and Oversight Committee (PAOC) in pursuant of Section VI of the new Act. This inclusion in the new Act (Board of Directors) was made by government as part of groundbreaking amendments to the old 2019 NRF Act as it removed the excessive powers of the Minister which were contained in the old Act. It also 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.

According to Part III of the new Act, 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’.

In moving the Motion Dr. Singh reminded the House about some of the reasons why the NRF was amended including:

  1. That the old 2019 NRF Act was an illegitimate Act passed by Parliament after the then APNU/AFC Government lost a No Confidence Motion.
  2. That in the old NRF Act the Minister of Finance had exclusive and far-reaching powers.
  3. That the old Act used a complex formula to calculate how much could be withdrawn from the
    Fund, leaving the general public in the dark.
  4. That the 2019 NRF Act stipulated the establishment of a cumbersome 22-member Public
    Accountability and Oversight Committee (PAOC) designed for deadlock

Minister Singh also reminded the Speaker and the National Assembly that the People’s Progressive/Civic (PPP/C) Government had indicated once it entered office that ‘unless those fatal flaws are fixed not a cent will be drawn from the Natural Resource Fund’.

He posited that ‘where the Minister of Finance had unlimited powers those powers have been removed by the PPP/C Government’s NRF Act. Where there was no Board of Directors in the APNU/AFC’s Act 2019, under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic’s there will now be a Board of Directors’.

Minister Singh emphasized further that Government was clear in its intention to ensure that there was full transparency and accountability in terms of transfer of funds from the NRF to the Consolidated Fund as this would be fully scrutinized by the National Assembly during every step of the way.

“ Sir, the Natural Resource Fund belongs to the people of Guyana. The people of Guyana own this fund and the people of Guyana must understand the basis on which the amount to be transferred from the fund is calculated,” he added, noting that in the old Act this calculation was not established.

In referencing the various criticisms of the New NRF Act, Minister Singh pointed out that “In all this hullabalu, one feature is striking-not a single soul has proffered or ventured a number (formula) to represent what would have been transferred under the APNU/AFC’s Natural Resource Fund Act”. He said that the answer was simple as it would have been ‘one man’ (the Finance Minister) who would have done so.

“We have written it in the law that every single cent to be trasnferred to the Consolidated Fund, that nothing can be transferred from the Fund to the Conslidated Fund unless it is scrutnized by the National Assembly,” Dr. Singh reiterated.

“They made a big fuss about the President appointing members to the Board but none of them had a problem with the Minister being appointed by the President (Finance Minister) having all the powers in the Act, but they have a problem with the President appointing five persons to the Board. This President has a mandate by the people of Guyana to govern ….and on top of that Sir, the fact that the Board has a nominee of the National Assembly…that Sir is an even further added positive architecture in the new Act,” Dr. Singh concluded.

Budget Day is Wednesday January 26

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, January 21, 2022: Senior Finance Minister Dr. Ashni K. Singh has announced that Budget Day for this year will be Wednesday January 26, 2022. The Minister had been over the last several months meeting and consulting with various stakeholders including Government Ministries, private sector and other agencies as preparations continued for the new Budget. This Budget is expected to comprise a number of critical developmental programmes and projects which will catapult Government’s agenda and take the country forward. It will also be a continuation of the fast-paced development path which served to be of benefit to citizens all across the country since the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) entered office on August 2, 2020.

The 2022 Budget is the third Budget presented by the PPP/C administration and the second for Dr. Singh who has been serving as Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance from November 2020 to present. The first Budget was an Emergency Budget presented in August 2020. This saw the immediate reversal of a number of punitive taxes instituted by the former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) Government among other significant measures while last year’s Budget comprised several developmental projects in a number of sectors.

The 2021 Budget presented in February 2021 under the theme ‘A Path to Recovery, Economic Dynamism, and Resilience’ included funding for the construction of various housing schemes and expansion of existing ones, investment in the revitalization of the country’s sugar industry, programmes in partnership with the private sector and other stakeholders for investment in the tourism and hospitality sector, the construction of a number of new roads and other infrastructure as well as a number of cash grants to citizens that assisted them after the destruction of crops and livestock during the devastating flood of June 2021, a seven percent increase to the public sector and cash grants throughout the year which allowed for the stimulation of the economy. Additionally, the 2021 Budget provided for large injections into the health sector and assistance to frontline health sector workers (vaccines and other health supplies) as the country continued to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. The developmental programmes included in the Budgets all in all represent the fulfillment of promises made by the PPP/C administration in its 2020 Manifesto. Government has indicated its intention to ensure that it fulfills every promise made to the citizens of Guyana and for which it was elected to office.

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.