Vice President Dr Bharat Jagdeo has revealed that the Government is actively working to announce an early 2024 budget, with a primary focus on policies designed to increase the disposable income and general quality of life for Guyanese.
Speaking during his weekly press conference on Thursday, he informed that the annual financial plan will put more money in the pockets of citizens, sharing, “We are currently engaged in the preparation for a 2024 budget. You will you will see an early budget in 2024.”
The Vice President underscored that Budget 2024 will focus on the continuation of economic and social infrastructural buildout of the country to enhance future growth. It will also bring greater comfort to citizens in the form of health, education, infrastructure, and other significant sectors.
The second prong will address increased disposable income through a menu of measures.“Disposable income can come from several ways. It could be through increase salaries, reduction of taxes, more people being employed and all of these measures would be catered for. So, you can expand employment and get more disposable income at the gross level. That is national level because more people are working.”
According to Jagdeo, these elements are consistent with the 2020 PPP/C manifesto and reflected through a series of projects, policies and programs that will be enshrined in the budget.
He disclosed, “You can look out for that goal, that is to keep our country safer; keep it vibrant; to keep the social and economic investments going; to generate more jobs; create more income for people through various means. These would all be part of the budget next year. So, we’re busy working at these measures.”
In 2023, the National Assembly approved the whopping $781.9 billion 2023 Budget – the first to be financed in part oil revenues and monies earned from Guyana’s historic carbon credit sale agreement. It was the largest ever in the country’s history.
Government had said the National Budget would strike a balance between addressing the pressing needs and irritants of today, while simultaneously investing in the future.In July, a $31 billion Supplementary Appropriation Bill was endorsed by the National Assembly, paving the way for funds to be injected into climate adaptation measures and support for Indigenous communities.
Then in August, Government approached the National Assembly for an additional $61.013 billion in supplementary funding, to be injected into several key sectors. A significant chunk of the money, to the tune of $33.37 billion, was for capital projects under the Public Works Ministry.
This week, two financial papers seeking approval for $1.8 billion and $24 billion respectively – were approved by the National Assembly.
These funds will go towards expanding the work programmes in various Ministries, agencies and regions. Specifically, money was sought for $1.2 billion for the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), which is presently on high alert amid threats to Guyana’s territory of Essequibo from neighbouring, Venezuela.
Budget 2024 is the fifth to be presented since the PPP/C Government assumed office in 2020. The first budget, presented in September 2020, was an emergency one that nevertheless contained sweeping measures rolling back the heavy taxation measures inherited from the former Government.
Among the measures the PPP/C Government has taken since coming to power, was setting aside $5 billion in budget 2022 to ease the rising cost of living on Guyanese and reversing over 200 taxes and fees imposed by former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government.
Other policies include reducing the excise tax on fuel from 50 per cent in 2021 to 10 per cent in 2022. The excise tax was ultimately removed in March 2022.
The Government also distributed a $25,000 COVID cash grant to every household, $1.7 billion to 220 Amerindian communities and $1.3 billion to severed sugar workers, bumped old-age pension up from $20,500 to $33,000 between 2020 and 2023, restored water and electricity subsidies to pensioners and provided over $200 million electricity credit to vulnerable households.
Additional measures include increasing the income tax threshold from $65,000 to $85,000, increasing and extending the “Because We Care” cash grant, increasing public assistance, providing billions in assistance to farmers, among other measures.
For 2023, the PPP/C Government provided a 6.5 per cent increase across the board for public servants.