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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.

GRA should aim to be world class tax administration

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, December 16, 2020: Finance Minister tours GRA Headquarters, wharves amid hectic year-end clearance process -reiterates Govt’s zero-tolerance for corruption

           

Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh today made his first visit as Finance Minister during his current tenure to the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) Headquarters and the various GRA facilities at respective wharves in Georgetown. The visit occurred amidst the busy Christmas and year-end clearance process and enabled the Minister to inspect the operations at the respective facilities. It also allowed for the Minister to meet with GRA Department Heads to outline his Government’s key priorities including increased efficiency and a high level of integrity.

During his visit to the Headquarters on Camp Street, the Senior Finance Minister, who was accompanied by newly-appointed Chairman of the GRA Board, Mr. Saisnarine Kowlessar, met with Commissioner-General Mr. Godfrey Statia and toured the various offices in the compound. After congratulating the new board members on their appointment and wishing them well in the discharge of their responsibilities, the Minister said, “GRA should aim to be a world-class tax administration,” as he addressed Senior Management gathered in the Oil and Gas Unit. He added, “It is opportune that we are meeting in the room of the oil and gas unit, as particularly where we are as a country, we are at a critical juncture, a defining moment, the moment that our country is really going to turn the corner from a country where there were a number of fiscal challenges to one which is now an oil producer and exporter with different challenges including the need to manage our finances carefully and sustainably.” On this note the Minister reminded GRA that despite the importance of revenue from oil and gas, domestic revenue mobilization was still a priority.

The coming into existence of an oil and gas sector does not mean that revenue collection from other sectors will not matter. In fact, it will be quite the opposite, he said as he alluded to other non-oil sectors which his Government will be prioritizing as well.

Pointing to the modernization of infrastructure taking place in the country, the Finance Minister noted that this must be accompanied by rapid modernization in the manner in which Government services are delivered to taxpayers. He further emphasized on GRA’s role in trade facilitation and the need for the rapid deployment of electronic tax-payer services along with delivery of services in a client-friendly manner. Turning his attention to corruption, Minister Singh then reaffirmed his Government’s zero tolerance stance on this as he cautioned that anyone found to be part of corruption would be dealt with condignly.

We expect as a Government, the highest standards of integrity and professionalism in revenue administration. That is the charge that President Irfaan Ali has given to his entire Cabinet. That is the charge that we are not only mandated, but required to convey to all entities within our respective sectors, he reaffirmed.

Wrapping up his visits, the Minister inspected the GRA’s operations at the various wharves including those at the Guyana National Industrial Company’s (GNIC) wharf and the GRA’s Container Scanner Unit.