Guyana’s draft National Budget is to be taken to cabinet within the next 10 days for possible fine-tuning and blessings before it is tabled in the National Assembly before the end of August.
The much anticipated budget will be the first for the first-time Finance Minister, Winston Jordan and the first for the new A Partnership for National Unity +Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) government which promised many exciting and inducing changes on the election campaign trail.
Minister of Governance, Raphael Trotman who hosted Cabinet’s press briefing at the Ministry of the Presidency on Wednesday July 15, said, “We anticipate in the next 10 days Cabinet will actually have a draft.” He said the various ministries are currently working with the minister to fine-tune the document so that much of what is asked for could be delivered.
The most eyed features to be presented are the reduction of the 16 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) and its complete removal from essential food items. Significant increases in Old Age pension, public servant wage and salary increases , and lowering of the Berbice Bridge toll are also expected to get a lot of attention as these are part of the government’s 100 day promises to be fulfilled within that time.
The National Budget usually has to be passed by April 30, but that was not done this year because the previous People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) administration had first suspended then dissolved Parliament to avoid a no-confidence motion and eventually make way for the May 11, 2015 general and regional elections.
As it relates to the 100-day promises, Minister of State Joseph Harmon said that the government is “getting there.” He said that the matter was indeed discussed at Cabinet one day earlier and Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo was ensuring that the government stayed in line with its promises.
He explained,however, that even before the 100 days are up the government expects to make certain pronouncements on their achievements. He stated “We are well up there; we are close to 50 percent complete.”
The government’s 100 day promise within the manifesto speaks to 21 constitutional, financial, social and economic issues that include VAT reduction, wage increases, the setting up of statutory bodies, code of conduct for public officials, and others.