Four-month budget to target pressing issues in the sector – Agri. Minister

As government prepares to present its four-month budget for 2020, Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha, has disclosed that his Ministry’s submission will target pressing issues in the sector.

“We know that there was no budget for 2020 because the previous government held on to power for many months after the no confidence motion was passed. Even after the March 2 elections, they refused to accept defeat and as a result Guyana suffered. Projects were either put on hold or unable to start and as such the country suffered. Now that the PPP/C is in power, we will soon table a four-month budget to get critical projects up and running,” Minister Mustapha said.

The Minister further noted that agencies were tasked to revise their old budget submissions to reflect projects that are urgent.

Agencies are scheduled to submit their respective budgets this week to the Minister and the Permanent Secretary, after which, those submissions will be made to the Ministry of Finance.

Minister Mustapha also said that the urgent needs of farmers will take precedence in the upcoming budget.

“From the Ministry’s end, farmers’ critical needs will be prioritized. We will be looking to improve drainage and irrigation, infrastructure and purchase new pumps. There are also some existing pumps that we will be fixing and some cultivation dams that need rehabilitating. We also hope to rehabilitate critical structures in the MMA that have been neglected for years,” Minister Mustapha said.

The budget is also expected to strengthen the Ministry’s extension capabilities to address pest and disease management and chemical use management.

Last week, Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo announced that extraordinary circumstances have forced government to present a budget in 21 days.

“It takes 179 days to prepare a budget from the date the circular goes out to the date of presentation in Parliament… but we want the budget prepared and we are working towards preparing a budget in 21 days,” said Dr. Jagdeo.

Last week, Minister Mustapha during a virtual press conference revealed that several of the Ministry’s agencies are in a terrible financial state. He pointed out that severe mismanagement was the cause and that he is working to bring order to the sector.