New minister plans tight rein on fiscal policies

Stabroek News
December 10, 1999

Minister with responsibility for Finance, Saisnarine Kowlessar, is committing himself to do the best he can to ensure sustained economic growth and macro-economic stability for Guyana.

The minister, still settling down in his new office at the Ministry of Finance, told Stabroek News he was prepared to work hard and to support the thrust for greater investment and to ensure efficiency in the management of the economy.

He plans to keep a tight rein on monetary and fiscal policies and in the new year to take a look at the operations of the Central Bank and the need to appoint a governor.

Kowlessar, 45, is sharing the portfolio of the ministry with President Bharrat Jagdeo who formerly held the position.

Mr Jagdeo, as of now, has retained the responsibility for negotiations with the international agencies in relation to debt and other programmes.

"I am responsible for running the ministry and all related matters domestically," Kowlessar said yesterday. But he noted that he was a minister within the Office of the President and as such reports to the President on macro-economic issues.

President Jagdeo is expected to have the final say in the budgetary allocations as well as key decisions as regards monetary and fiscal policies.

However, Kowlessar will be in charge of administering macro-economic policies (fiscal and monetary). All the agencies under the Ministry of Finance such as the Budget Office, the Customs and Inland Revenue departments and the Central Tender Board will fall under him. He will have direct involvement with an enhanced revenue collection effort and will also be in charge of all foreign-funded projects. He will be the government's representative in the National Assembly and will also be expected to give effect to undertakings of the President when he was finance minister as these relate to propelling the economy.

Kowlessar said that preparations for the year 2000 budget had already started and he expected to start meeting businessmen

after the holidays. He is not certain as yet when the budget will be presented.

The former University of Guyana researcher, lecturer, head of business and management studies and assistant dean, said he was honoured to serve his country in this way.

Having served as a director on the Bank of Guyana board, Kowlessar said, holding the position he now has was his wildest dream and he promised to do his best to ensure the economy grew.

Kowlessar, holds a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) and specialises in banking and finance.

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