April 16, 2012
Minister in the Ministry of Finance [Bishop Edghill]: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I rise in support of Budget 2012 and notably the first budget of this Government’s five year term in Office of this Tenth Parliament under the theme “Remaining on Course, United in Purpose, Prosperity for All”, presented by the Finance Minister, the Hon. Dr. Ashni Singh on March 30th 2012.
When His Excellency President Ramotar assumed Office and named his Cabinet, he did this on the basis of continuing the good work of the PPP/C and improving and strengthening those areas in need of reinforcement. Every annual Budget of this country or any other country represents the single yearly instalment of Policies and strategic priorities reflected in initiatives, measures and actions geared towards the accomplishment of our medium term goals and objectives. It is essential that this Budget 2012 be viewed in the context of both the previous initiatives as well as the proposed future steps along a medium term path toward achieving the vision of this Government.
What can be afforded as country is dependent upon several factors including the stability of macroeconomic fundamentals, our productive value as a country, our international trade performance, our rates of economic growth, our levels inflation, our exchange rate, our levels of savings and investments, our rates of employment and our own consumption levels. Balancing the ability to repay our debt and ensuring that we manage our national debt in a sustainable manner and the levels of investment in human and social development and physical infrastructure needed to support medium term growth and development.
Some reflections on Budget 2012: My work during my tenure as Chairman of the Ethnic Relations Commission has driven me to review the budget by asking how the Budget 2012 ensures equal access and equal opportunities so that prosperity can be realised for all. Do men and women equally benefit from policies and initiatives in Budget 2012? Is our spending adequate to help meet the needs of every man, woman, boy, girl and infant? Are there measures in Budget 2012 which will help build a framework of equal opportunity and access? For example, in education, where our School Feeding and National Uniform programmes are not limited by any excluding criteria, but are opened and extended to each and every school child. The great intention of such programmes and inclusivity is to ensure that all our boys and girls regardless of race, religion, circumstance or region are afforded the opportunity to attain a quality education and thereby fulfil their potential for their own benefit and for that of the country.
In health, we have our National Immunisation Programme which ensures that every child is given full protection from preventable routine childhood diseases, and now we have added the Human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine for our eleven year old girls to protect them from developing cervical cancer and other health problems later in their lifetime. It is my considered opinion that Budget 2012 is well thought out, pragmatic, pro-people, carefully considered and it is a document that came out of a highly consultative and iterative process that was analysed by some of the brightest and very mature professionals and technicians at the Ministry of Finance. May I take this opportunity to salute the Hon. Minister Dr. Ashni Singh and our team, some of Guyana’s finest men and women who work every day for the progress and development of Guyana.
This budget is inclusive, non-discriminatory, non-sectarian and non-divisive. It is my conviction that no amount of misinformation or reckless statements can neutralise the well established programmes that the 2012 Budget offers. On a note of clarification, let me advise the Hon. Member Mrs. Cathrine Hughes that both the allocations for the David Rose Centre and the Help and Shelter are exactly what were represented from the Ministry of Finance. I have the budget submission here to prove it, and can share it with the Hon. Member if she so wishes.
I need to add that the subject of the David Rose Centre that the Hon. Member referred to in the Budget is not the David Rose Centre for the handicap, but it is the David Rose Centre that is housed in West Ruimveldt which is under the Ministry of Health. Last year at the David Rose Centre for the handicap which falls under the Ministry of Education, I am advised that over $1,044,630 was expended on repairs to the building. There is a continual programme in conjunction with the Ministry of Health and there is continual relationship with the schools, so the school is benefiting.
I wish to also assure the Hon. Member Ms. Kissoon that there are Budget allocations for medical equipment for Region 10. Again, I have the amounts expended for such allocations annually for the past five years and what is provided for in the 2012 Budget, which I will be happy to share with her.
The numbers and the figures do not exist in isolation. There is vision, programmes and projects that are doable and which can translate to a pathway to progress and prosperity for all. The success story that Guyana’s economy has recorded real growth over the last six years cannot be disappeared by the criticisms of the members of the other side of this House and the media who have sought to pretend that this information does not exist. The evidence of Guyana’s real growth can be seen by sparkle in the eyes of our young people, the excitement that fills the air when our young people are talking about their future, our young people wait with eagerness and anticipation for us to give them the assurance that there future is continually secure. Please do not disappointment.
Guyana must not miss her day of visitation. Guyana must not squander her moment of opportunity. This is a kairos moment. I dare say that this a prophetic moment. Budget 2012 offers development with dignity, not just mere charity, but real opportunities. The development that I speak to is not about one of us or just some of us or even the best of us; it is about all of us. The affordable measures are pregnant with possibilities for growth. Understanding, patients, and innovativeness are required.
This country’s vast human and natural resources are being developed in marvellous and magnificent ways. They provide a framework for achieving prosperity for all in a more technological environment. These resources allow the enlightened entrepreneur, not only to dream but to illuminate the path for the realisation of that dream. For example, the small business development fund and the growing number o self employed persons. The biggest challenge to small business is financing and being able to secure small low interest loans to develop their business; this will be addressed in the small business development fund. This is the kind of support needed by the growing number of businesses in Guyana’s Agro Processors Association which started in 2010 with four members and today has fifteen members who produce many of the local products such as coconut water, cassareep, spices, jams, seasoning and the condiments we see on the supermarket shelves or the Guyana’s Arts and Craft Producers Association whose numbers have swollen to the hundreds over the years and has members in all ten Regions of this country. Though each individual business directly employs with a range of 3 to 35 employees at the moment, sourcing their supplies from their products...
Mr. Speaker: Hon. Minister just one second. I am hearing a singing. Do we have a choir or something happening?
Ms. Ally: I saw Ms. Teixeira’s mouth moving.
Mr. Speaker: I am hearing a singing of references to the devil, Jesus Christ and so forth. Hon. Members we each have our own religious beliefs, but let us not be invoking God and Jesus and the devil frivolously or flippantly, or as some form of tantalise or whatever against anyone. Let us allow the Member to complete his presentation. I do not think we appreciate the singing. I am hearing a singing and cannot seem to find out where it is coming from. In any event let us allow the Minister, please, to give his presentation.
Mr. Edghill: Thank you Mr. Speaker. If the intent was to intimidate I can ensure that it has not succeeded. The Hon. Prime Minister has spoken extensively and comprehensively on the issue of electricity generation and the option the options that are before us as a nation. The subsidy to the Guyana Power and Light Incorporated (GPL) is intended to ensure the cost of living with respect to utilities does not increase for the majority of consumers who already pay a disproportionate share of the cost for electricity generation. As a company GPL is entitled to increase tariffs in order to generate revenues to meet expenditure needs. If government did not intervene to avoid this tariff increase then every one of us would be paying a 28% increase on our electricity bills. In which, if one currently paid $6,000 a month, and I have flagged that very moderately, instead you will now have to pay $6,000 plus $1,677, a total of $7,677, reducing the amount of disposable income available for other important items. Higher electricity tariffs would also lead to higher overhead costs to businesses thereby increases the cost of production of goods and services and then obviously the price to the final consumer. All of this has been avoided by the PPP/C Government intervention to ensure the burden of the higher tariff is not faced by the consumer. I dare say this subsidy is in fact is a subsidy to the consumer, only that it is being paid to GPL; it is to help the consumer. Rest assured that even as the subsidy is provided to the consumer, we will continue to demand greater efficiency from the Board and Management of the company.
I now turn to the subject of old age pension. The question posed to me by many persons as I travel around the country has been, “Why has old age pension only been increased by $600?” I have taken the time to explain as I do now. The old age pension must be taken in the context of increases in the past as well as what this Government is doing for pensioners. As pointed out by my colleague, the Minister of Human Service and Social Security, the Hon. Member Mrs. Jenifer Webster, the old age pension is not a sole source of income for pensioners; it is simply a monthly transfer, a subsidy given to every senior man or woman who has reached eligibility by turning 65 years.
Our Government’s concern for pensioners who depend upon old age pension is not limited to a transfer; it is reflected in the investments made in agriculture to ensure that our farmers are able to produce more so that the prices of basic food items remain affordable. It is the investment we are making in electricity to ensure that the cost is not increased every time we turn on the lights in our homes. It includes that we mandate that no excise tax be charged on kerosene. It is reflected in our Health facilities to ensure that they are staffed with adequate doctors and nurses to provide free healthcare. It does not matter whether you have worked before or never worked a day at all, regardless of your income level on has just to turn 65 and apply and you benefit. You do not have to contribute towards it. Whether you are a business owner or sitting at home with you grandchildren you benefit. Whether you are a housewife or a minor you benefit, or a fisherman or farmer, or a parliamentarian or a painter.
The working population of this country, many of whom have to meet expenses of raising a family and children and have mortgages or rent to pay, travel cost to work, just to name a few, we were able to afford an 8% increase in wages and salaries at the end of 2011 and we have sought to afford no less for our pensioners. This was in comparison to an inflation rate of only 3.3% in 2011. It is important to recall that when at the end of 2007 a 14% inflation rate was recorded, this Government increased old age pension by a substantial 63%, evidence of a Government who cares. From 2006 to 2011 this Government more than doubled the old age pension in the face of a rising number of pensioners at an additional cost of $2.6 billion. How can one say that this Government does not care in the light of expending this level of resources? If one were to add the electricity subsidy to the old age pension plus the water subsidy then we would exceed the $10,000 target that is being requested by members of the other side of the House.
Permit me at this time to say that I have heard in this Hon. House the question of the pension for the former President which was being referred to as a ridiculous sum of $3 million being sighted. May I indicate to this House that no evidence suggest that the former President is in receipt of a pension of $3 million or can receive at this time a pension of $3 million based upon the calculations that are available for such a purpose. To suggest that is misleading, and I think we need to put it on public record that that figure is highly erroneous.
Even as we invest to ensure sustainability of the established sectors, we continue to actively engage in seeking support for the development of new and emerging sectors. To this end Government’s ability to attract both local and foreign direct investment as well as successfully implement public private partnership as a means to secure new financing remains a priority. The level of foreign direct investments at the end of 2011 stands at US $246.8 million and continues to show growth over the years. This level of foreign direct investments being injected into our economy is a strong signal of investors’ confidence of how well this Government has managed this economy and more so it is an undisputable signal of the strong confidence that investors place in the leadership of this country under the PPP/C Government.
This Budget is replete with examples of growth in local and foreign direct investment in several sectors. Our extractive industries, CGX Resources Inc., the consortium led by Repsol Exploration S.A., and Reunion Manganese Inc., are becoming familiar or household names in Guyana. In the agriculture sector we continue to enable our private sector farmers to be more competitive through training and genetic diversification of our crops and livestock while simultaneously expanding support for hinterland food security and the turn-key housing initiative. These are just a few examples of key investments happening all around us. The support given to hundreds of existing small businesses and hundreds of potential new investors, to ensure the small business sector is striving and entrepreneurial dreams are realised, continues to be reflected as a priority in terms of resources allocated in this budget. To that end we are talking about employment generation and jobs for all; jobs that today include such areas as call centres which simply did not exist a decade ago. We now have ten call centres which employ over 3,000 people. So for anyone to say no new jobs are being created, they must be either blind or closing their eyes to the truth. As it relates to the issue of blindness may I take this opportunity to remind this Hon. House of the words from the sacred text: “If the blind leads the blind they both will fall into the ditch”.
I take this opportunity to urge the Hon. Members of this House, those on this side and those on the other side, not to be blinded by our own bitterness, neither should we be blinded by the failures of the past nor should we be blinded by fear.
Further, with the laying of the high speed fibre-optic cable from Providence to Lethem a whole new world of possibilities will be open to our technologically savvy teenagers – young men and women. Our young people must arm themselves with the appropriate education and knowhow to ensure they are part of the team leading transformation. The significant foreign direct investment in the extractive sectors has already created jobs in the exploratory stages and this includes heavy equipment operators, drillers, geologists, surveyors, geological technicians, GIS technicians and analysts, managers, operation superintendents, network engineers, cooks and labourers. Our people have also to be actively seeking employment, and collectively we must work on both sides to ensure that our young people gear themselves to take advantage of the jobs being created now, and the numerous opportunities that will present themselves in the future. They must take advantage of the training programmes available under the Board of Industrial Training (BIT) and those offered by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport. I want to strongly encourage both employers, and the unemployed to sign up with the Ministry of Labour’s Job Matching Programme under the Central Recruitment and Manpower Agency which seeks to match employers with potential employees. One can register for this directly or online; it is free. I can speak very intimately to this particular subject because I have been able to write character references and recommendations for a number of young people who have benefitted from jobs by registering with the Agency. I want to encourage that registering becomes a practice.
The Guyana Office for Investment has estimated that the impact on job creation from investments they track - only the ones they track - is expected to be over 5,000 in 2012 alone, with expanded growth anticipated in the years ahead. Following the 2012 census, the Bureau of Statistics will be able to engage in a labour market survey which will be able to comprehensively capture employment statistics. I, therefore, take this time to let the Hon. Member Mr. Jones know that the 400 jobs he spoke about are only in one sector.
In addition to the reference in the Budget Speech, the areas of revenue administration in improving the services to tax payers will continue to be a priority. A few of these improvements at the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) include the operationalisation of the container scanner, which facilitated a more advance and efficient system of examination of containerised cargo. And since January, 2011 the container scanner has been used to screen all exports for narcotic substances in keeping with the international requirements. During 2011 the GRA introduced a flat rate system, in order to further simplify and expedite the clearance of personal effects imported at various ports of entry. The system involves reduced examination of personal effects and the application of a flat rate on import duties for non-commercial items imported in barrels, boxes, packages and parcels. Based on size importers of personal effects are able to clear and uplift their cargo with less difficulty. To improve transparency in the processing of entrees at Customs computer monitors have acquired and installed at Custom House and at all transit sheds. These monitors display the status of custom transactions, entrees, and allow for importers to ascertain the status of their entrees. The implementation of a new system that requires motor vehicles to be renewed annual by the registration date of the motor vehicles has resulted in improved delivery of service due to a significant reduction in the time taken to process transactions.
In 2012, improvements in the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA)will include focusing on further strengthening these measures by fully computerising the process of issuance of trade, miscellaneous and driver’s licenses, utilising new security enhanced features on the licenses, intensifying enforcement on tax compliance measures, utilising third-party information to aid in the profiling and selection of tax payers for all tax types, in order to assist GRA’s management in protecting and increasing revenue collections. GRA will establish customs offices in Bartica in Region 7 and Morawhanna in Region 1 during 2012 in view of increased business activities taking place in the interior.
I want to speak to the issue of impact. When the Hon. Finance Minister read the Budget on 30th March, I heard murmurings from the other side, and the question was asked: What is the impact? Please afford me the opportunity to continue to educate this House on the impact of the 2012 Budget. I want to speak to the education sector and the linkages. Our investment in education will serve to prepare our people and equip them with the relevant technical skills required to meet the Guyana of tomorrow. The Guyana of tomorrow will see new sectors, new industries, which will require new skills, both technical and non-technical. Our people will be trained to manage and develop these sectors. I am speaking about energy, oil and hydro. In the Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector we are talking about call centres, high speed internet services. In the tourism sector, the entire hospitality related business arena... in small business and agriculture diversification.
Government has invested in the University of Guyana to upgrade the laboratory and develop skills and competencies in the scientific and environmental area, to better equip our people for the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) and a green environment. This will also serve to further skills in research and development, in the light of new and emerging sectors which are mostly scientific in nature.
Also, substantial investments in the area of technical vocation have been made. Several technical vocational educational and training centres have been established across Guyana with two new additions in Regions 3 and 5 to develop the youths and skills that are required to meet our country’s development agenda. There is also the Basic Needs Trust Fund programme that provides more skills not only to our youths but to housewives and our indigenous community. These programmes serve to empower young people and to supplement the livelihoods of hundreds of others. The Information Technology (IT) centres in Regions 3 and 5 have led to previously unemployed persons being able to access learning and become employed.
In 2012, $26.5 billion has been allocated for the education sector. One billion dollars has been allocated towards the continued implementation of the hinterland school feeding programme from which about 63,000students will benefit. The school uniform programme will continue; 36 schools will be targeted countrywide as part of a pilot aimed to achieve better performance in Mathematics and English at CSEC examinations; over $1.2 billion is being allocated to teacher training, inclusive of provisions for operational expenditure at the Cyril Potter College of Education, which is expected to produce 430 graduates from the Associate Degree in Education Programme in November, 2012 while another 800 students will complete the Trained Teacher Certificate Programme in July, 2012. All secondary schools will be equipped with functioning ICT departments; 3,500 teachers are targeted to be trained by the end of 2012. ICT based success markers programmes will be installed in 60 primary schools and teachers will be trained to use the software as a learning aid. $900 million dollars is allocated towards the University of Guyana. Preparatory work for the US$10 million University of Guyana Science And Technology Programme is completed; $80 million has been allocated under this project towards the commencement of curriculum reform, research support, and infrastructure rehabilitation; another $450 million has been budgeted for the Students Loan Programme. We have budgeted for the construction of an annex at the Ptolemy Reid Rehabilitation Centre which caters for over 60 differently able students. Additionally, the Centre will be rehabilitated so as to provide technical and vocational training to the students; $3.3 billion has been allocated for continued construction, extension, rehabilitation and maintenance of schools and other facilities countrywide. I could list a number of schools and areas in all 10 Administrative Regions.
We are speaking to impact. In Housing and Water, the continued support for the housing sector has seen catalytic increases with the development of other sectors. Every year more houses are being built which requires finance from the commercial banks which in turn promotes the banking sector. The construction sector has taken off and is doing well with increased demand for construction materials such as cement, zinc, stone, et cetera. Thousands of skilled and semi-skilled workers have been employed within the housing sector, creating income and livelihoods for thousands of families, enabling parents to send their children to school, and acquire the basic essentials of life.
The forestry sector has also increased with the demand for more wood thereby creating more jobs for people within the sector. The low income housing programme has also enabled thousands of persons, for the first time, to own their own homes. This in turn helps them to put their house and land as collateral with banks to start their own businesses. The housing sector also drives other sectors such as manufacturing, because as people own their own homes they have to furnish them. They have to buy appliances, the windows, the blinds. The quality of life for all Guyanese has been significantly improved.
I want to speak to impact in the health sector. The life expectancy has also increased. People are now living longer and healthier lives. This in turn adds to a stronger and larger work force. A specialty hospital will be built to ensure that complicated services which currently require treatment overseas, at exorbitant prices, will be available locally at less than half the price. This matter will be addressed by other speakers. A hospital like this will see patients from the Caribbean as well as North America coming here to access these medical services. Government has invested in a Sprinkles and Coupon Programme to ensure that pregnant and lactating mothers have the required nutrients to pass on to their babies. More babies would be born healthy and free of illnesses and diseases which in turn will eventually bring down the investment. We have to buy drugs for the health sector. We could put that into another sector. We are not just spending money we are having impact.
In 2012, $16.9 billion has been allocated towards the modernisation of this sector. Emphasis will continue on decentralising services, strengthening public/private collaboration to reduce chronic non-communicable diseases, and improving the quality of care and access to health services. $672 million dollars has been budgeted to commence construction of the state of the art specialty surgical hospital at Liliendaal. An additional $948 million has been allocated to construct, rehabilitate and maintain health infrastructure countrywide. This includes completion of the National Psychiatric Hospital, Georgetown School of Nursing, constructing of a health centre at Port Mourant, renovating/transformation of the Mahaica and Linden Hospital buildings, international treatment and rehabilitation facilities for drugs and alcohol, construction of a health hut at Kokerite at Region, 1 and we could go through the list. There are facilities throughout the regions which will be benefitting from such an allocation. $235 million have been allocated for the procurement of medical equipment and the construction, rehabilitation, and maintenance of accommodation for doctors and other medical support staff in areas such as Sand Creek, Karasabai, Kwakwani, Corriverton, Long Creek; construction of medic and community health workers living quarters at Baramita, Region 1, medic quarters in Hururu, Region 10; and construction of nurses quarters at Kwakwani, Region 10. Three hundred and eighty-seven million dollars are budgeted for training and improvement of public health personnel to meet growing demands for specialised services. Government has recently boosted its armoury of vaccines to provide coverage against the human papilloma virus (HPV). $240 million dollars are budgeted to support distribution of anti-natal and infant sprinkles which aims to improve nutritional health for over 15,000 mothers and children.
We are speaking about impact. In the tourism sector the Government’s continued investment in tourism has been showing returns and tourism continues to expand at a very rapid rate. A new Marriot Hotel will be built in Guyana. This in turn will create hundreds of jobs first to build the hotel, then for the persons who have to work at the hotel. There will be need for more taxis and more travel agents. The Marriott Hotel brings its own clientele and as such will attract thousands of new tourists every year. That is impact, Sir. These tourists when they come will want to go to see the Kaieteur Falls; they will want to visit the Iwokrama Nature Resort; small arts and crafts shops will see an increase in their profits. The new niche market in birding and yachting has also brought many tourists into the country, and Guyana is becoming a premier destination for these types of initiatives. The second edition, July, 2012 of the Bradt Guide of Guyana notes that Guyana has become a recognised and respected bird watching destination in its own right. It is important to note that what attracts visitors to a country is not simply how much is invested directly in the tourism product but more so the state of the economic, social and political developments. In a couple of years these ports will bring even more tourists into Guyana and hence an increase in business.
Let us talk about impact for our youth. Much emphasis has been placed to ensure our young Guyanese are powered through interactive programmes designed to enhance skills, develop and create a cadre of entrepreneurs to make a meaningful contribution to national development. The investments have been made in programmes such as the President’ Youth Awards of Guyana where out of schools youths have an opportunity to learn basic skills. There is also the Youth Initiative Programme which upgrades sports facilities for youths to develop their dreams of being professional athletes. These investments made over the years have served youths across Guyana and given them a renewed passion to pursue their dreams. For those who do not wish to pursue an education but prefer to learn a skill, for them there are many programmes to empower them to live their dreams of becoming a mechanic or craftsman or electrician. The Board of Industrial training is providing that outlet, Sir. This Government recognises that skills in all areas are needed, not only professionally but technically as well, hence the investment in programmes that cater for school dropouts and those who prefer to learn a skill. It is because of these initiatives that many young people will have a livelihood to provide not only for themselves but their families as well. The social impact that these programmes have will be seen in a reduced crime rate among the youth.
Impact on sports - the Government has also ensured that all Guyanese are provided with the opportunity to participate in sporting activities and empowered to channel their energies, abilities and talents to contribute meaningfully to national development. Investments in a national athletic tract and a swimming pool are some of the initiatives undertaken to ensure that youths who prefer to be professional athletes now have the resources to follow their dreams. The Guyana of tomorrow will see our young people competing at the Olympics, winning regional and international tournaments, and being world class sportsmen and women, because they have the facilities which are internationally acceptable to practice.
In infrastructure, our impact will be seen in the Sheriff/Mandela four-lane highway, in the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) four lane extension that is currently ongoing, and in the Black Bush Polder road - a 36 kilometres roadway which provides easy access from farm to market. The East and West Canje road is currently under construction; the East Bank four-lane highway, and the East Coast four-lane highway are all projects that are making their own impact and bringing about the prosperity for all which we are talking about. The Community Road Improvement Programme will attain, improve and sustain access to social and economic infrastructure through the rehabilitation of access roads in communities across Regions 3, 4, 5, and 6; and the strengthening of institutions under the supervision of the Ministry of Local Government. My other colleagues have spoken about the Cheddi Jagan International Airport expansion.
We talk about the ICT/ e-government - to improve ICT infrastructure and provide equipment and services for the implementation of e-government through the construction and installation of 200kilometres of fibre optic cable and 44 wireless access network sites.
I will now elaborate on the area of strengthening public administration as mentioned on page 58 of the 2012 Budget Speech - Monitoring and Evaluation.
In Budget 2011 the Minister of Finance indicated that the effective and efficient delivery of government services is expected to be enhanced as work continues to advance to the development of a national monitoring and evaluation framework. Over the course of last year we trained over 100 senior government officials in key concepts of monitoring and evaluation and began workshop sessions with budget agencies to strengthen their programmes budgeting capability – all in an effort to ensure the expenditure of allocation is more closely linked to measurable indicators which can be monitored and tracked more effectively. This year as part of Government’s five-year plan training in key concepts of monitoring and evaluation will continue with another 150 public service officials being targeted. In addition more intensive works will be done with the two pilot sectors, health and education, both of which are guided by sectoral strategic plans and which together account for approximately 2 percent of the total budget. The Government’s focus on the social sector has seen significant investment over the years as we are now placing greater emphasis on improving the quality of service delivery by our teachers, our doctors, our nurses and other education and health providers. It is therefore imperative that we strengthen the ability of these sectors to use indicators to measure not only their output but also their outcomes and impacts. This makes the practice of fiscal prudence in the case of expenditure management more targeted and meaningful. Agencies can use data gathered from monitoring and evaluation to make more effective spending recommendations and decisions, and review systems and processes to ensure improved overall performance. Indeed, in order to improve the fiscal deficit over time in the face of growing demands, we need to improve both the efficiency and the effectiveness of how we conduct the business of government. Our President has mandated all our public officials through their Ministers and Heads of Budget Agencies never to forget that our jobs are about providing quality service to the people, and that as public servants we carry the responsibility of serving the public. In doing so as public servants we need to get busier at being more effective and not simply being busy. In this way the Government will ensure greater accountability and greater value for money.
Guyana has come of age, we have heard the call, be assured of my promise to deliver to the people of Guyana greater value for money as was requested by Members of this Hon. House. There will be what I define as evidence based decision making and results oriented management under my watch.
In conclusion, I say that Budget 2012 is designed to ensure that economic growth and development are achieved. Within that growth opportunities abound for every individual citizen of our nation and for the expansion of businesses. I believe that without question the one common rope - and I say rope not thread - that binds us together in this House, is a desire to see a better Guyana in the future. In that desire we are most certainly united in purpose. And it is my firm belief that a common purpose can carry us forward and help us to collectively overcome challenges as we work to ensure a more prosperous Guyana for all.
As we consider the Estimates of the public sector we must be champions the causes of the people, we must be magnanimous, we must be patriotic, we must not be consumed by our own egos; there must be no grandstanding. The people of Guyana expects us to be visionary in our planning , strategic in our thinking, fair and just in our decision making, constructive and consistent in our actions. We are servants of the people. As their elected representatives we must discharge our responsibilities with a deep sense of accountability and with objectivity, without eye service. As we deliberate our decisions will define the moment and determine our tomorrow. Our young people are depending on us. They are demanding of us mature, exemplary, sensible, strong, and sacrificial leadership where they deserve the best. Let us give them the best by us doing our best.
I think you for your attention and I commend Budget 2012 to this Hon. House. [Applause]