$18B cleared for agriculture sector

The Ministry of Agriculture’s 2017 budget has been cleared after consideration by the Committee of Supply.

More than $18Billion has been allocated to the sector for 2017 expenditure for administration, fisheries, crops and livestock and hydrometerological services.

Allocations under the Ministry of Agriculture are as follows:

-Administration, $ 16, 015, 698, 000

-Crops and livestock support services, $ 1, 346,550,000

-Fisheries, $ 183, 163, 000 and

– Hydrometeorlogical services, $ 602, 894, 000

A number of pump stations have been budgeted for construction along the East Coast of Demerara including at Lusignan ($ 162, 000, 047), Buxton/Vigilance ($ 105, 152, 000), and Hope/Enmore ($ 186, 379, 000). These are just some of the budgetary allocations under the ministry’s Drainage and Irrigation programme which is aimed at reducing the risk of flooding.

Meanwhile, the livestock sector will see massive development with improvement of poultry and cattle breeds.

The hinterland regions, more specifically the intermediate and interior savannahs have been targeted for the rolling- out of a number of capital expenditure projects.

The fisheries sub-sector has allocations to promote inland fishing with the development of tilapia species.

Hydrometeorological services will see the construction of climatological stations in Kato, Hydrometerological stations at Chai Chai, Sand Landing and Amaila Falls.

As the estimates for each sub-sector was presented to the Committee of Supply for approval, attention was brought to a number of areas including increased budgetary allocations for training of staff, wages and electricity in some areas.

Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder explained that staff who previously served the ministry on contract were transferred to the permanent roster, thus increasing the number of staff for 2017 as is reflected in the estimates. The increase in wages and salaries is as a result of increased salary scales that must be accommodated after the tax threshold would have been raised and deduction percentages reduced.

Additionally, Minister Holder pointed out that increased electric utility is based on the fact that the ministry has acquired new electronic equipment and additional staff to operate within the ministry.

Opposition chief whip, Gail Teixeira sought clarity on the conflicting figures of allocations for the agriculture sector. Teixeira pointed out that the Minister of Finance in his budget presentation said that $20.6B had been set aside for the sector, but only $18B was presented to the committee for approval.

Minister Holder explained that the difference is outlined under regional allocations for the Ministry of Communities.

Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan stated that the principal in this allocation is that sectoral programmes, such as those for Public Health, Education and Agriculture, implemented in each region and executed by the Regional Democratic Councils (RDC), and is therefore outlined in the budget of the regions.  However, these figures are still a part of the subject ministry’s budget.