IN responding to claims that the proposed 2021 budget does not include any monetary incentive for public servants, Vice-President, Bharrat Jagdeo, has affirmed that salary increases are catered for in this budget.
The allegations that the government did not cater for public servants followed the presentation of the $383.1 billion budget by Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, in the National Assembly on Friday.
Budget 2021, the country’s largest budget, is the first full-year budget presented by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) administration since being elected to office in August 2020.
It is $53.5 billion larger than Budget 2020 and $46 billion higher than the Central Government’s total expenditure for 2020.
The aim of this budget, as outlined by Dr. Singh, is to keep the population safe from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, containing further spread, treating those who are infected, providing vaccines as soon as they become available, and reopening the economy progressively, and then fully when it is safe to do so.
While protecting the nation is the primary objective, the budget is also aimed at ensuring that there’s a diversified and resilient productive sector by facilitating large-scale private investment in both traditional and new and emerging sectors, creating 50,000 jobs in the next five years, and promoting entrepreneurship at the medium and small-business level.
Investments in critical infrastructural projects and other major initiatives are expected to stimulate growth in the local economy.
And, while Dr. Singh has said that the measures outlined in the budget will put $50 billion back into the pockets of the average Guyanese, there have been calls for salary increases for public servants, something which has been catered for in the budget.
Vice-President Jagdeo said that over $10B has been budgeted in the estimates under the head, “revision of wages and salaries”.
“A huge part of that sum will go towards salary increase for public sector workers,” he said.
The Guyana Chronicle understands that previous PPP/C Governments are known for setting aside a “lump sum” of money, which is later used to provide salary increases and other monetary incentives.
Specific provisions aside, the PPP/C’s plan, according to Dr. Singh, is to make Guyana an economic powerhouse, where every single Guyanese person can live, learn, work, and retire in dignity and comfort; where national prosperity is a reality, and where individual prosperity is a realistic prospect for all who are prepared to invest the required effort.
“The achievement of that objective requires a broad-based resilient productive sector, including vibrant industrial and manufacturing sectors, creating jobs for meaningful and rewarding employment.
“It also requires the cultivation of conditions conducive to the emergence of a dynamic entrepreneurial and small-business sector. Additionally, it requires an education sector that equips all of our people, including those seeking alternative pathways to work, with the skills that they need to play meaningful roles in the economy of today and of tomorrow,” he reasoned, noting that foremost amongst these will be technical and technology-based skills.
The senior minister said it requires all of the other prerequisites to improve quality of life being in place, including world-class healthcare facilities and programmes to nurture the most vulnerable members of society, as well as facilities and programmes to encourage and promote the talents of young people.
Headline photo caption: Vice-President, Bharrat Jagdeo