Mr. Speaker, I rise to move the motion for the approval of the Estimates of the Public Sector and the Budget for the Financial Year 2023. In doing so, I wish to indicate that Cabinet has recommended that the National Assembly proceed upon this motion, pursuant to Article 171 Paragraph 2 of the Constitution of Guyana.
Budget 2023 is the fourth budget of this People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government formed in August 2020, after the protracted struggle to ensure that the constitutional consequences of the December 2018 no confidence motion were adhered to and that the results of the March 2020 elections were respected as the democratic will of the People. Inevitably, even if belatedly, democracy and the rule of law finally prevailed, and our beloved Guyana was rescued from the precipice of becoming a rogue dictatorship and a pariah state.
Since assuming office, our Government has set about the task of repairing the deep and lasting damage caused by five years of misrule and mismanagement, rebuilding Guyana’s credibility in the global community, restoring our attractiveness as a destination for private investment, improving infrastructure and social services, and ensuring enhanced opportunities and improved quality of life for the Guyanese People. All this we endeavour, while guided by His Excellency’s overarching and abiding philosophy of One Guyana.
Mr. Speaker, Budget 2023 comes at the 30-month mark, or approximate midpoint, of our current term of office. It therefore presents a timely opportunity both to look back at the first half of this term and, even more importantly, to look ahead at that which is yet to come and which beckons with such abundant and exciting promise.
To give just a few examples, in the two and a half years since assuming office we have: • Combatted the COVID-19 pandemic, providing protection to citizens by administering 958,365 doses of vaccines in total and achieving a fully-vaccinated rate of 68 percent of the adult population and, at the same time, provided relief to households by distributing over $7 billion in cash grants; Page 2 of 101 • Improved social safety nets, by increasing old age pension by nearly 40 percent to $28,000 monthly resulting in transfers of over $21 billion in 2022 to our senior citizens, and increasing public assistance by over 55 percent to $14,000 monthly resulting in transfers of over $3 billion in 2022 to the most vulnerable in our society; • Reintroduced and increased the “Because We Care” cash grant to $25,000 per child in 2022 which, along with the $5,000 uniform grant, resulted in total transfers of $5.6 billion to parents of over 196,000 school age children in 2022; • Awarded nearly 14,000 online scholarships under the GOAL programme, giving the awardees an opportunity to pursue higher education or specialised training and certification in the comfort of their own home; • Distributed over 20,000 house lots, about three times the total distributed in the previous five years, giving all those recipients – Guyanese families and young professionals – the opportunity to become a home owner for the very first time; and • Increased hinterland access to water from 46 percent in 2020 to 75 percent currently.
See Budget Speech 2023: https://youtu.be/njGB_oi-JUY