Budget contains many positive measures

Stabroek News
June 25, 2001

Dear Editor,

Indeed the budget of 2001 has set the stage for further development for all Guyanese as it enumerated a number of measures and programmes for "Moving Guyana Forward Together". Like Minister Sasenarine Kowlessar, I view the 2001 budget as an "[imaginative attempt] to consolidate the gains that have been made over the past eight years; and to continue the task of nation building, in order that Guyanese may enjoy a brighter, more prosperous future" (Budget Speech, June 15th 2001).

It is therefore quite depressing that so far all the critics of the 2001 budget, instead of dealing with the more substantive issues of the budget, have only found it fitting to highlight a number of insignificant issues, which they perceive to be shortcomings. Unlike those critics I will not make it my duty to find faults in the 2001 budget; instead I will offer my comment on the various budgetary measures which I believe will create a better tomorrow for every Guyanese. In fact, I see the budget as one which caters for the needs of all Guyanese.

As a young Guyanese I am indeed impressed with the bold initiative that the government has indicated it will undertake to stimulate investment. In particular the investment code, which will soon be enacted into law, the $425 million allocated to stimulate investment and more generally the $18.7 billion budgeted for the expansion of physical and social infrastructure of the country. I am confident that these budgetary measures will encourage massive investment (despite the prolonged political instability) which in turn will lead to the creation of thousands of jobs for youths like myself. In addition, these initiatives, coupled with the Government's initiative to develop the road to Brazil will certainly serve to make Guyana one of the major commercial centres in South America.

Being not so rich myself, I am also impressed with the human development initiative outlined in the budget to improve the social sector. In particular, the $2 billion budgeted by the government to alleviate poverty, the $5.3 billion earmarked for the health sector, $11.8 billion allocated to improve the quality of education among the other human development initiatives outlined in the budget. These initiatives will no doubt result in the improvement in the standard of living of the Guyanese people as the Government attempts to further reconstruct the legacy of our painful and destructive past.

As a student who uses the Internet frequently for invaluable educational materials, I am pleased with the budgetary measures that will ensure that all Guyanese have access to Internet related services. This will not only supplement the other budgetary initiatives to improve our educational standard, but will also serve to propel our youths into the Global village. As UNDP studies have shown, education is critical for human development as well as necessary for economic growth. Further I believe that this initiative of the Government will serve to prepare the young Guyanese for the diversification programme highlighted on pages 26-27 of the 2001 budget.

Government's housing programmes are expected to benefit from the $538 million budgetary allocation. The housing drive will have positive spin off effects such as job creation, poverty alleviation, increasing the stake of Guyanese in the society, and fulfilling the basic human desire of owning a home; apart from developing various communities throughout Guyana. The thousands who have benefited from the Government housing programmes or are otherwise awaiting such benefits in the upcoming years will no doubt welcome this initiative.

In view of the foregoing I am compelled to give the budget of 2001 an A+, since as the Minister rightly puts it "it [i.e. the budget] is an imaginative attempt to build on the foundations that have been laid for our economic take- off; to promote the well-being of the country, and to address the many issues and concerns of the Guyanese people" (Budget Speech, June 15th 2001).

Yours faithfully,
Krishna Lall