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Govt believes billions injected into GuySuCo is money wasted

first_img…as education delivery gets lion’s share of 2017 BudgetDespite announcing a $9B bailout for the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), Government believes the stark reality of the situation is that money injected into sugar, in its current state, is money wasted and it would make no impact on the operating losses and cash deficit status of the industry.Finance Minister Winston JordanThis was the damning report given to the National Assembly by Finance Minister, Winston Jordan, when he on Monday presented the $250B Budget for 2017—the third budget to be presented by the coalition A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) Government in just over a year and a half in office.The Minister reported to the House that sugar has in fact recorded a dismal performance this year and it is projected to decline further in the coming year.According to Minister Jordan, the status quo of the sugar industry can neither be sustained nor maintained.He said as currently structured, the industry would require Government’s support to the tune of $18.6B and $21.4B for 2017 and 2018, respectively.“This is an untenable position, one that would seriously jeopardise the fiscal stance of the Government, while compromising resource allocation to other critical and important areas.”Lamenting the situation, Minister Jordan said the radical reorganising of the sugar industry is required as a matter of urgency, since the continued postponement of the hard decisions on GuySuCo’s future would result in the corporation incurring even more debts (estimated currently at $80B) and an escalation of the demands on the Treasury.He has since announced that “recognising this grave situation, a Cabinet Subcommittee has been established, tasked with making definitive recommendations for implementation by the end of 2016.”According to Jordan, “this Committee has been examining all options and will make a full report to the Cabinet of Ministers shortly.”Jordan announced nonetheless that for 2017, the Government has made an allocation of $9B to support the financing of GuySuCo’s operations.This he said “brings to $32B, the amount of resources that would have been provided to the Corporation since August 2015.”Education Minister, Rupert RoopnaraineLion’s shareSpeaking of allocations in the 2017 Budget, Minister Jordan recalled the appalling mathematics and English results fielded at this year’s national Grade Six Assessment and the Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate.To this end, the minster announced that education delivery will be receiving the lion’s share of the 2017 Budget, to the tune of just over $43B, representing just over 17 per cent of the $250B National estimates for the coming year.According to Jordan, “the priority which we have given to the education sector and the increased emphasis that we will be placing on the delivery of quality education across all levels is reflected in the budgetary allocation of $43.1 billion, or 17.2 per cent of the 2017 Budget.”He said it is expected to have a more definitive role in changing our development trajectory.Included in this allocation, according to Jordan is a sum of $1.9B for the school feeding programme and $578 million to purchase textbooks.“Together with the President’s 5 B’s Programme, these measures are expected to result in improved attendance, attentiveness, and productivity.”He said too that over $3.5B has been allocated to construct, extend, rehabilitate and maintain schools, teachers’ quarters and other buildings. Within this, several new schools are slated for completion, including Yurong Paru Nursery and Hiowa Nursery in Region 9, Bamia Nursery and Primary in Region 10, and Baramita Nursery in Region One.“We cannot afford to fail our children, who are our leaders of tomorrow, for to do so would be tantamount to undermining every sector of our economy and, ultimately, condemning our nation and future generations to a life of pessimism and poverty…We, therefore, have to ensure that we properly diagnose the problems and apply solutions that seek to structurally change the mode, scale, and regional appropriateness of interventions…Our Government will not fail our children,” said Minster Jordan.Public Security Minister Khemraj RamjattanPublic SecurityAnother sector to receive a substantial chunk of the Budget is the security sector which has been allocated in 2017 $29.1B “to restore public confidence in our security sector.”Among some of the initiatives targeted by the Ministry with responsibility for Public Security is increasing the recruitment of Police, by approximately 20 per cent, to boost Police presence as a deterrent to crime.Jordan said too that the monies will also be used to equip the Police with vehicles and specialised equipment aimed at improving mobility and response times to reported crimes.He said too that the allocations will go towards expanding patrols in key areas to deter criminal activity, for which over $740M has been budgeted, complemented by expansion of the mounted branch in key hinterland locations.He spoke too of re-establishing and operationalizing the 911 service to restore public confidence in the response capability of the security services.According to Minister Jordan, in order to offset the overcrowding of the Georgetown Prison, the complex at the Mazaruni Prisons will be expanded at a cost of $2.2B, of which $369M is budgeted, in 2017, and will see the expansion of offices, inmate living facilities, staff and family living facilities, training facilities, as well as the construction of a school, daycare centre and places of worship.He announced too that for the first time, a port Georgetown fireboat will be added to the fleet of fire vehicles, at a cost $250 million, to service port Georgetown.“In addition, expanded fire protection services have resulted in $49.4M being allocated for two water tenders in Leguan and Wakenaam as well as two ambulances to augment the integrated 912 and 913 emergency services to improve response time.”He announced too that three new fire stations, costing about $77.5M, will be constructed at Mahdia, Mabaruma, and Melanie Damishana.Education Minister, Rupert RoopnarainePublic HealthAs it relates to the delivery of healthcare services across the country, the Minister announced too that this sector will also benefit from a hefty chunk of the Budget.According to Minster Jordan, “this Government continues to prioritise the health and wellbeing of the people as a pillar for ensuring economic development, happiness, productivity, and prosperity.”He reminded that in 2016, “we expect to expend over $27 billion, or 12 per cent of the National Budget, in the health sector,” while in 2017, this will increase to $31.2 billion, or 12.5 per cent.According to Jordan, the Public Health Ministry will in 2017 pay greater attention to equipping and upgrading district hospitals to deliver the full suite of mandated services, “as this would lead to greater equity between the hinterland and coastland.”He said too that additional specialists, in areas such as paediatrics, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynaecology, dental, and general surgery, will be deployed in Regions One, Eight, and Nine.Government, he said, has also allocated $2B for the improvement and maintenance of health infrastructure countrywide.“Particular emphasis will be placed on upgrading health facilities for district level hospitals and comfortable living quarters to attract the necessary medical personnel in the hinterland, in areas such as Baramita, Bartica, Kamarang, Mahdia, Port Kaituma, and Annai.”According to Minister Jordan, over $6.5B has been allocated in this Budget to procure drugs and medical supplies for our citizens who access public health facilities.“Although we have been budgeting adequate sums of money, our population continues to experience frequent non-availability of drugs and medical supplies at almost every public health facility, suggesting a number of problems in the procurement, storage, and distribution systems.”This problem, he said, will be arrested by ensuring that the process is informed by data driven health information systems in order to ensure more consistent supplies and avoidance of waste.He used the occasion to also provide highlights on investments to be made in areas of youth, families, the elderly and vulnerable, culture and arts in addition to gender equality, and hinterland development, among other sectors. (Gary Eleazar)last_img read more

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