Social sector development, poverty reduction key emphases in '04 Budget
March 31, 2004
Minister of Finance, Saisnarine Kowlessar has noted that social sector development with a view to reducing poverty in Guyana was one of the main emphases when Budget 2004 was being crafted.
He made this disclosure during the first in a series of 'Budget Talks', on the National Communications Network - Television and Radio.
Minister Kowlessar noted that the Budget presents a package of measures that are geared towards reducing the level of Guyana's poverty rate, while bringing back economic growth.
He noted that the policies, plans and programmes are outlined in the last PPP/C's Manifesto and the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP).
He said that the overall hindrances to achieving the budget's objectives in 2004 would be political instability and upsurge in crime.
Accompanying the Minister on the programme were Budget Director, Dr. Ashni Singh and Budget Consultant, Winston Jordan.
Minister Kowlessar noted that in addition to poverty reduction, the Budget seeks to restore economic growth through the removal of bottlenecks in the system.
He noted that some major problems that Guyana has to deal with are the international price of fuel and other global economic shocks.
Commenting on criticisms of the Budget, Minister Kowlessar noted that the Budget has to be seen in the wider context of achieving the overall goals of social sector development in the long-term and sustaining macro economic fundamentals.
Dr. Singh said that the Budget is crafted in the context of the national and international environment in which Guyana operates.
He noted that the PRSP which spells out the needs of social indicators, was one of the principal guidelines in crafting the document.
Mr. Jordan said the focus of policies and plans outlined in the Budget was maintaining economic growth on a consistent level by building foundations.
He noted that foundations refer to setting the ground work for infrastructure
development, such as diversification into new growth areas, modernization of the traditional sectors and improvement in the health, education, water and electricity systems.
As such, he noted that the Budget is about ensuring that the necessary legislative and regulatory frameworks are in place to support the private sector, which can have a positive impact on investment and poverty alleviation.
He said that the Budget has to be measured from the soundness of its policies and should be seen as a building block that will sustain the economy.
Mr. Jordan noted that the ordinary man stands to benefit from, among other things, old-age pension and social assistance programmes, several measures to encourage small business development and self-employment and private sector development. (GINA)