Budget must address urgent problems

By Alim Hassim
Stabroek News
February 28, 1998

President Janet Jagan on Thursday announced that in "a week or two" the annual budget would be presented and she issued a "forewarning" that there were many "urgent problems" which it would have to address.

The Guyanese President disclosed plans for a number of new major projects, and said that Cabinet had already decided on measures to speed them up.

Addressing the ceremonial opening of the Seventh Parliament yesterday, the President noted that in recent times the prices of Guyana's main exports - rice, sugar and gold - had fallen on the international market, and in addition to that the El Nino phenomenon was having a negative effect on the main economic activities in the country.

"Indications are that in a few months, we can expect unusually high rainfall and its attendant problems," she said, adding that all those problems could eventually affect the country's foreign earnings and the development programme "even when production volumes continue to grow".

She stressed that the issues needed the combined efforts of all Guyanese to find lasting solutions.
While Guyana grappled with these and other problems, the Guyanese President said, there was a continuing programme which would see further development in roads, sea defence, schools, health and water services.

Among the major projects that Government would undertake, the President disclosed, were the improvement of airport facilities, deep water harbour services, new drainage and irrigation schemes such as the Mahaica-Mahaicony-Abary Phases one and two, the East Canje River Scheme, the bridging of the Berbice River and the completion of the Georgetown-Linden Road.

"Many new projects are in the pipeline, such as the new clay brick facility, a bicycle factory and a large scale fruit and vegetable farm," she said.

"In addition, a major focus will be land reform which would see the increased distribution of land for various purposes, especially housing, agriculture and industry," she said.

The President added that the distribution of land titles to Amerindians would continue apace.

Mrs Jagan announced that a qualitative improvement in management and efficiency at all levels of the public sector was to be undertaken. By this she said, it was intended to create a higher level of investor friendliness, provide more efficient services to the public and the more rational use of funds.

"We believe that the commitments we made to the electorate during the 1997 election campaign will serve to enhance our potential as a nation," she said.

Giving a general outline of the major plans of the PPP/Civic's second term, the President said that government intended to consolidate the ongoing democratic reforms, continue to create economic opportunities for all Guyanese, accelerate human resource development through expansion of education and training facilities, ensure every family was able to own their own home, continue to develop infrastructure to support rapidly expanding economic development, further build the framework for the full integration of the country's indigenous people, women and youth in national development, continue reforms in the judicial and law enforcement systems to ensure a fair and just society and sustain and enhance efforts to establish Guyana as a proud and forceful nation in the world community.