Budget 2024 will continue to deliver greater prosperity, enhance livelihoods – President Ali

President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali on Sunday afternoon passionately defended the government’s $1.146 trillion budget, which he said outlines a comprehensive plan for improving livelihoods.

During a live broadcast, he addressed several criticisms of the budget, saying that many political operatives have sought to mislead the public with these murmurs.

“They try hard every single day to keep our country stuck in the mud. They try to process everything in their head from a race perspective, to continue their ambition of dividing us. It will fail, because this is a government that is rigorously the unification and development of our people, and the expansion of our economy to benefit all the people of our country,” he underscored.

He recalled that while in government, the opposition failed to adequately invest in the country’s agro-processing industry. In particular, he pointed to their poor management of the rice industry, which saw many Guyanese millers struggling to keep their businesses afloat.

“They stopped all investment in drainage and irrigation. They increased the water users’ charge, they increased the charge for D&I services, they increased the charge for land rental. They took away all the competitive advantages that farmers had. They gave all the farmers no incentives on fuel or machinery,” he reminded.

Upon reassuming office, the PPP/C government removed all taxes on machinery and fuel, and distributed fertilisers in support of the industry. 

“Today, we are seeing investment in the rice sector, investment in research and development, mechanization, retooling, innovation, high yield, greater markets. That is what we have done. That is what budget 2024 supports,”

The head of state also highlighted the significant debilitation of the sugar industry during the opposition’s tenure in office, when some 7,000 sugar workers were left on the breadline following the closure of several sugar estates. 

In the financial sector, when compared to 2019, the country’s international reserves increased by over US$319 million, allowing for a reversal of the Bank of Guyana’s overdraft.

“Our deposits, public sector deposits and government deposits, increased by 295 per cent since 2019. This speaks to a robust financial sector, greater fiscal space to make investments to enjoy a better quality of life, build out the economy and create the framework for wealth creation and prosperity.  More importantly, we are now in a better position to withstand external shocks. That is why we can implement policies and programmes that reduce the impact of external shocks and external variables on our economy here,”

One such policy was the government’s removal of taxes and duties on fuel, which amounts to more than $75 billion of disposable income for Guyanese.

“When you look at the effective tax rate in 2019, it was 23%. The effective tax rate today is 9.3%. So, as we increase salaries and expand opportunities for the people, we’re reducing the tax burden on the people of our country. When we talk about debt and incurring debt and expanding the debt profile of the country… our debt to GDP ratio was 39%. Today, our debt to GDP is 27.2%. A reduction of more than 12%, in our debt to GDP ratio,” he emphasised.

These reductions have been spurred by the government’s financial policies and strategic investments, which ensure that citizens are not saddled with burdensome taxes, while building Guyana’s economic standing.

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