GEORGETOWN, Guyan – Guyana’s first historic GUY$1.146 trillion National Budget 2024 themed “Staying The Course: Building Prosperity For All” which will accelerate the nation’s development agenda was successfully approved, without any changes, in the National Assembly on Friday.
The budget exceeds the trillion dollar mark for the first time is 46.6 per cent larger than budget 2023.
Senior Minister in the Office of the President with Responsibility for Finance and Public Service, Dr Ashni Singh piloted the nation’s largest fiscal plan on January 15.
Beginning on January 22, government and opposition parliamentarians participated in extensive budget debates on the fiscal plan for five days, followed by the consideration of estimates for the various ministries and agencies in the Committee of Supply, which concluded Friday.
The trillion-dollar budget, which imposes no new taxes, is partially financed by revenue earned from Guyana REDD+Investment Fund (GRIF) under the original Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) totalling $6.8 billion and is projected to receive a further injection of $43.7 billion earned from the sale of carbon credits.
Moreover, an estimated $240.1 billion from the Natural Resources Fund (NRF) will be withdrawn and transferred to the Consolidated Fund to support the country’s development agenda.
It is designed to expedite social and infrastructural development, advance food and energy security, develop housing infrastructure, support small businesses and vulnerable groups and improve the welfare of the citizens by creating new job opportunities and promoting income generation
A huge allocation of the budget is dedicated to improving the country’s infrastructure whether it be roads, bridges, sea defence and airstrips among others, with $221.4 billion allotted to this sector.
To achieve its vision of a world-class healthcare and education system , $129.8 billion and $135.2 billion was approved respectively. Guyanese will continue to benefit from affordable housing and access to potable water, with $78 billion approved to advance housing infrastructure and $20.5 billion to expand water access.
Energy security is paramount to the nation’s development which is demonstrated in the $95.7 billion investment contained in the budget, to develop the energy sector and $80 billion for the continued development of the landmark gas-to-energy project.
In addition , Guyana’s security will be bolstered with $90 billion allocated to the various security arms and $72.3 billion to upgrade the country’s drainage and irrigation (D&I) infrastructure to reduce the risk of flooding.
Key measures include the increase in the old age pension from $33,000 to $36,000; public assistance from $16,000 to $19,000 and the Because We Care student grant has jumped from $35,000 to $40,000, injecting billions of disposable income into the pockets of citizens.
In addition, the income tax threshold will now move from $85,000 to $100,000 thereby removing 13,000 persons from paying taxes.
Additional persons will benefit from employment opportunities as $10 billion will be invested this year to expand the part-time job programme while small businesses will receive support in the form of lower interest rates on loans up to $5 million, thereby reducing the cost of financing for establishing new businesses.
The budget also aims to remove Value Added Tax (VAT) and duty on sports equipment, essential cell phone accessories such as chargers, charging cables and headphones, and phone components for repairs.
In order to ease the cost of living, the government will maintain zero excise tax on fuel to absorb fuel prices and the reduction in freight charges will be extended from January 1 to December 31, 2024. Additionally, $7 billion has been allocated for cost-of-living measures, which will be decided after the government holds consultations with the various stakeholders.
Additionally, as part of its commitment to making university education free, the government will commence the first phase of eliminating outstanding loans owed by graduates of the University of Guyana (UG).
The Budget 2024 is a continuation of the PPP/C Government’s previous budgets, which have laid a solid foundation for the country’s transformation and prosperity, which seeks to ensure that every family benefits from the wealth and social opportunities that come with the transformation being sought.