Guyana’s $781.9B national budget was on Thursday passed in the National Assembly at the conclusion of its 62nd Sitting following approval of the Appropriation Bill 2023 (Bill No. 2 of 2023).
On January 16, 2023, the Senior Minister in the Office of the President with Responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, presented to Parliament, the budget for the new fiscal year which will use $208B in oil revenues.
Beginning January 23, both sides of the House participated in five days of debates following which there were four days of Committee Supply Meetings during which the Opposition Members meticulously examined the estimates and posed questions Government Ministers.
Budget 2023, which proves to be even more historical in nature than that of 2022, imposes no new taxes and is partially financed by revenue earned from Guyana’s historic sale of carbon credits, with a payment received from Hess Corporation.
This has placed Guyana on the world stage as being the first country to receive such a payment, valued at US$75M under an agreement that will be worth a minimum of US$750M up to 2030.
Two more payments of US$37.5M each will bring the total amount appropriated in this year’s National Budget to US$150M.
The payment materialised as a result of Government’s continued recognition of the important role of the country’s forests in the development of our country and in combatting climate change globally.
On December 1, 2022, the Architecture for REDD+Transactions Environmental Excellence Standard (ART-TREES) announced the issuance of 33.5 million credits to Guyana for the period 2016 to 2020. The Architecture for REDD+ Transactions (ART) is a global initiative that seeks to incentivise the reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) and restoring forests as well as protecting intact ones.
Budget 2023 also benefits from continued financing through projected withdrawals from the Natural Resource Fund (NRF) of US$1B this year, equivalent to G$208.9B to finance developmental priorities.
As highlighted by Dr. Singh, this year’s National Budget will strike a balance between addressing the pressing needs and irritants of today, while simultaneously investing in the future. As such, a number of transformational projects are included in the budget for critical projects across the agriculture, education, health and infrastructure sectors.
As the Government remains committed to working towards achieving the vison of world class standards of education and health care, Budget 2023 allocates $84.9B for the health sector, and $94.4B for the education sector to ensure that the country’s young people are prepared for the future.
Importantly, within these, there is an allocation of $13.1B to advance work on the paediatric and maternal hospital, and six regional hospitals at Lima, De Kinderen, Diamond, Enmore, Bath and No. 75 Village, as well as $12.4B to improve education infrastructure countrywide.
This year’s budget also includes a number of large projects that will transform energy supply in the country including provisions for the construction of an integrated natural gas liquids plant and a 300 MW combined cycle gas turbine power plant within the Wales Development Zone.
During his presentation of the budget on January 16, Dr. Singh noted that this project “… represents the single largest investment made in the electricity sector, and single largest Engineering, Procurement and Construction contract undertaken”.
It is anticipated that this project will directly cut emissions by 70 percent, resulting in a number of major economic development initiatives in Guyana as energy costs would be significantly reduced.