Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Let me join with my colleagues in this National Assembly in commending the Minister of Finance team for bringing an Emergency Budget in record time to this National Assembly.
Mr. Speaker, with all the challenges of 2020 – the COVID19 pandemic and the unnecessarily imposed five-month electoral impasse by the APNU/AFC regime that fought desperately to subvert our democratic process, the Guyanese people are longing for much-needed relief. Budget 2020, within the short span it was designed for, will see the implementation of many relief measures for workers and businesses. It is a reflection of the PPP/C government’s continual focus – a focus on the people and to advance our country. Much-needed relief is on the way for those in the agricultural sector.
Mr. Speaker, Budget 2020 reemphasizes the PPP/C government’s
commitment to the revitalization of agriculture in Guyana. Agriculture is one of the pillars that sustains the Guyanese population and provides economic stability. It contributes: –
- 20% to the national GDP
- Approximately G$70 Billion to the foreign earnings
- Employs 17% of our population
- Crucial for food security and poverty reduction.
The big question is why have we not progressed further along the path of our agriculture potential over the past five years. The simple answer, Mr. Speaker is mismanagement and maladministration by the APNU/AFC government. One is forced to ask whether it was deliberate, plain ignorance or a combination of both of how to ruin an important sector such as this. But we will FIX it! Despite the damage they have done to the sector, we will FIX it! We will fix it because we are committed to our word that we gave to the Guyanese people.
In the next five years, starting with Budget 2020, we will: –
- Implement measures to promote a diversified agriculture-based economy
- Create more jobs
- Increase the income of farmers.
This will be achieved by: –
- Modernizing and upgrading infrastructure
- Strengthening support services
- Robust marketing systems at local and international levels.
- Increase Guyana’s market share by tapping into the US $5 B food import bill of the CARICOM Region.
State of Affairs
Mr. Speaker, a fundamental of any government is their duty to care. Let me be clear, the APNU/AFC was an uncaring government. They consistently neglected the interest of farmers, their families, and their communities. Mr. Speaker, in this PPP/C government, we will address these deficiencies and find solutions to transform agriculture. We have started by addressing about 12 of the 32 specific measures in the PPPC Manifesto for agriculture.
But first, Mr. Speaker, let me provide a brief on the ‘state of affairs’ I inherited when I took the portfolio of Minister of Agriculture and then I will show how the PPPC government will transform the sector.
Mr. Speaker, APNU/AFC closed 4 sugar estates and sent home over 7,000 sugar workers, with no alternative source of income. Productive sugar lands were distributed to kit and kin of the coalition, the equipment was sold at peppercorn prices to their friends and cronies.
- Closure of estates created an unprecedented economic situation, depriving the economy of billions, reducing sugar production by nearly 60 %, losing nearly the same amount in foreign exchange, and created a multitude of social problems.
- It seems APNU/AFC was punishing the sugar workers, their families, and their villages. We will not allow it.
- Closed estates were simply abandoned
- Machinery and equipment sold
- Billions of dollars of sugarcanes are now permanently destroyed.
- Vital infrastructure has fallen apart.
- Equipment in good condition worth millions was sold as scrap at certain locations.
- Monies withheld from GuySuCo.
- Mr. Speaker, rice farmers, and millers were left to fend for themselves, as Panama owed our farmers and millers G$1.9 billion from contracts signed in 2018 and 2019, with no resolution under the APNU/AFC government.
- They Implemented VAT on Electricity which sent the cost of production up in Rice Production
- Mr. Speaker, farmers were required to pay increased land and drainage and irrigation (D&I) fees, especially the Region 5 farmers. Mr. Speaker, Region 5 is one of the most productive agriculture region in Guyana.
However, since 2016, the APNU/AFC administration imposed increases in land rent and other charges to farmers in the Mahaica, Mahaicony, Abary Agriculture Authority (MMA/ADA): –
- land rents increased from $1,000 per acre, per year to $7,000 per acre per year
- D&I charges increased from $2,500 per acre per year to $8,000 per acre per year
- Rent for cattle pastures from $487 to $2,500 per acre, annually; – some of these increases are over 600%.
- Mr. Speaker, Funding of capital projects for the MMA was stopped during the last 5 years. This has resulted in the lack of inadequate D&I services, etc. The MMA has stopped maintenance of 620 miles of Drains and Canals – Immediate intervention has been made to have emergency works completed which will bring much-needed relief to farmers
- Added to that, no capital works was done in the Mahaica and Mahaicony block
- Mr. Speaker, Inadequate amount of materials were procured for repair works on the all-weather roads which serve over 2300 rice farmers and 96,000 acres of rice – over 650 miles of access dams was not maintained which eventually sent the cost of production up and even caused farmers to lost crops in some cases – Mr. Speaker, we will work collectively with farmers to ensure that repair and maintenance works are done to the required standards
- Mr. Speaker, the rice and other crops farmers in the Hope Estate were not spared of these draconian fees. Farmers’ land rents skyrocketed by over 500%. Farmers who were paying $3,000 per acre are asked to pay $15,000 per acre. The farmers took this to court and won against the then government.
- Mr. Speaker, farmers, faced with a very high cost of production, with the additional burden of 14 percent VAT on inputs such as fertilisers, agrochemicals, pesticides, fishing gears, and other necessary farming instruments. Mr. Speaker, the high cost of production reduced the farmer’s competitiveness in the domestic and international markets. Also, Questionable fertilizer quality was received by farmers since GRDB did not pushed for the verification process to be facilitated and this left farmers at risk by having poor quality fertilizer – Intervention will be made to have the GNBS involved in the process
- The Ministry of Agriculture, Agriculture Sector Development Unit, had multiple projects being delayed, just awaiting signatures from the former Minister of Finance. Further, those projects were so poorly planned and implemented, that within the first few years of execution, they were in a ‘re-allocation process of the loan agreement’ with development partners.
- Mr. Speaker, both the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA) and the National Agriculture Research and Extension Institute (NAREI), our premier institutions for the livestock sector and fruits and vegetables, were woefully under-resourced. Both of these agencies require equipment, vehicles, breeding animals / improved genetic planting materials, and on the job training for the staff.
- Mr. Speaker, ACOUSHI ANTS is always a major problem. Over the last 5 years, every time NAREI budgeted to purchase chemicals – this was never awarded. Almost $10 Million was requested in every Budget. How we will fix it? NAREI will include Acoushi Ants Treatment in future budgets. NAREI will start to produce Baits this week.
- As for FOGGING Machines – none was purchased over the last few years (National Fogging Program Was Not Sustained) – We will revamp the National Fogging Programs with our respective Partners (Ministry of Amerindian Affairs etc.)
- All Seed distribution was stopped (to rural and hinterland communities) – this significantly affected rural agricultural development – We will re-commence the seed distribution to small scale farmers immediately.
- No new markets were found for other crops – those markets that existed were what was already there – We will Revamp GMC’s capacity and build bilateral partnerships for new markets
- Mr. Speaker, added to all of this, no agricultural census was done in the last 5 years – this would have inhibited the farmer’s ability to understand the demands of the market – The Ministry along with the FAO will commence an agricultural census in 2021
- Mr. Speaker, it was not NAREI alone. Let’s Examine what was done at the GLDA:
- The duckling hatchery program has reduced significantly and this would have affected small poultry business development – Not to worry, we will work to resuscitate the Livestock Industry by improving the genetic stock and breeding & hatchery programmes
- Pastures, empoldering works to prevent flooding in livestock areas and infrastructural works were neglected and in many cases were non-existent – invest in machinery and equipment to revamp livestock farming and pastures
- There continues to be a Lack of an approved slaughter facility (abattoir) for large and small ruminant for export. – We will fix this!
- Farmers’ lands were repossessed and given to family and friends of the APNU/AFC government.
- The National Drainage and Irrigation Authority were found with many inoperable pumps and excavators.
- Mr. Speaker, the AURORA Land Development Project was shelved for the last 5 years – We will work to recommence this project
- In excess of 50,000 canals and drains, predominantly in coastal regions were left abandoned/neglected which had a negative impact on farming – Mr. Speaker, we will work on a phased approach to restore these canals to provide efficient service to farmers
- Mr. Speaker, the Water Users Association were neglected by removing their funds – We will work to restore funds to the WUA’s in the different regions
- Also, no significant Dam maintenance program was in place and there were NO Program to construct farm to market access roads (minimal repairs and maintenance) – We will immediately resuscitate a National Dam Maintenance Program
- Mr. Speaker, Hope coconut estate was found to be in a poor financial position with less than $120,000 in its bank account
- Mr. Speaker, over the last five years, there has little to no investors into agriculture, instead, we saw a pull away from the sector.
- The Fisheries Department was found to have a liability of G$40M. Additionally, there is no proper system for the provision of security, tracking systems, and other measures for fishermen to mitigate piracy attacks.
- Mr. Speaker, the aquaculture industry production declined by 6 times in the last 5 years (2014 compared to 2019). We have seen the withdrawal of large investors, such as Beni Sankar in Region 2, Carana from Region 4, and Kris Jagdeo in Region 6. The APNU-AFC neglected the fisher-folk with little to no incentives to remain in the industry much less attract new farmers/fishers. While this is occurring in Guyana, on the international level, aquaculture is increasingly taking up prominence as captured marine fish is on the decline.
Measures Budget 2020
- This PPP/C government will make GuySuCo profitable again
- PPPC will raise the livelihood of the sugar workers.
- Much needed budgetary support of $600 Million was released.
- Joint assessment for the reopening revealed the deplorable and damaged state of these estates.
- Budget 2020 has an “Allocation of $3 billion for the recapitalization of GuySuCo and an additional $2 billion as required.”
- APNU/AFC said closure of the three estates in 2017 was to concentrate on the output of Albion, Blairmont, and Uitvlugt to produce annually 147,000 tons of sugar.
- Since then, GuySuCo has consistently recorded the lowest production in its years, with 2019 at 92,256 tonnes. ($30 Billion)
- Requisite capital investments to secure production, reduce cost, and ensure a quality end product, did not happen.
- For 2020, production currently at 50,211tonnes – aiming to
- achieve the target of 106,495 tonnes.
GuySuCo was: –
- Once the backbone of Guyana’s economy.
- Once the largest employer of roughly 16,000 employees, with 48,000 direct dependents
- A major sources of foreign currency
- A major provider of community healthcare, drainage services, and welfare facilities.
Mr. Speaker, GuySuCo is therefore more than just the profitability of sugar estates. It must be considered beyond the balance sheet and be seen for the socio-economic entity it is.
Mr. Speaker, a common practice worldwide is for the government to provide subsidies to key economic sectors of national importance – to sustain the livelihoods of its people. For example, in the United States, the U.S Department of Agriculture expended about the US $22 billion in 2019 and spending another US$37 Billion in 2020 in subsidies for farm businesses.
Therefore, why would APNU/AFC feel budgetary support to the largest employer of labour, deserves any less? Is it that they do not value these Guyanese workers? Is it that they do not care about them? APNU/AFC actions towards GuySuCo over the past five years exposed their unconscionable attempts.
There are no doubts that GuySuCo has: –
- Production challenges
- Low productivity
- High cost of production
- Lack of competitiveness
- Poor management.
PPPC confident it can: –
- Concentrate its efforts and achieve break-even status.
- Ensure better management by appointing a new Board of Directors
- Ensure greater efficiency through necessary re-tooling, product diversification, and retraining where necessary.
Mr. Speaker, as outline in Budget 2020, G$5 Billion is earmarked for the re-opening of Enmore, Rose Hall, and Skeldon Estates. The initial allocation of $3 Billion will be spent on ‘field’ and ‘factory resuscitation.
WALES DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY
This authority will work with former sugar workers and others from the Wales catchment area, to set up start up agriculture value chains which will utilize agriculture production (fruits, vegetables, livestock, etc) from the catchment area and process them into value added products. These products will be used to replace the large quantities of agriculture based products that are currently imported into the country.
It is envisaged that 3000 persons will be employed directly in this venture.
The Government of Guyana will spend nine million united states dollars ($9M USD)
Providing jobs for Guyanese must not be as seen political. A government must provide jobs so that workers can provide for their families in an effort to reduce poverty and to allow the growth of the local and national economies. By reopening the estates and creating the Wales Development Authority, much-needed jobs will be provided. That is what the PPPC will do! That is what a caring government will do!
The rice Industry of Guyana has been in existence for over a century and is still today one of the economic cornerstones of this country.
- The MOST important agricultural industry
- Contributes approximately 20% of the agricultural GDP
- Contributes 14.2% of export earnings ($46.7Billion) – second-ranked foreign exchange earner (Gold being number one)
- More than 6,400 farmers, and 50 millers are involved in rice production and processing.
- More than 40,000 benefits from the industry directly or indirectly.
We will support the industry through expenditure
- on drainage and irrigation,
- research and development,
- extension services,
- marketing and financial support.
Rice is the Guyanese business and we will work to see the industry flourish. Since taking leadership of the agriculture sector, we have been working assiduously to address the constraints faced by farmers, which are many and includes, but not limited to,
- proper infrastructure – drainage and irrigation and farm to market access roads
- timely payment of farmers by millers
- expanding markets
- enhance productivity and competitiveness
- value-added rice products
Mr. Speaker, we have addressed the issues of exorbitant fees with Budget 2020 measures: –
- Reversal of land lease fees across all sectors and water charges back to 2014 rates
- Reversal of land taxes and drainage and irrigation charges back to 2014”.
$112.9 Million have been allocated for the maintenance of drainage and irrigation systems for farmers in the Mahaica, Mahaicony Abary area.
We will begin addressing the lack of proper access to farms.
Budget 2020 will see the extension of the Onverwagt Access Road worth $25 Million and $29 million for dams in Regions 2,3,5 & 6. This urgent intervention would immediately make 91,580 acres of rice fields accessible translating to a gain of G$10.2 Billion for the farmers for the current rice crop.
- Plans are in train to increase the value of exports with new markets.
- We will ensure farmers’ interests are firstly and foremost when dealing with buyers; to avoid another Panama situation occurring.
Since being in office, we have already contacted the Panamanian Government, they have already acknowledged the outstanding payments and has committed to addressing them with interest. Furthermore, they have committed to resuscitating the rice deal.
We plan to expand existing markets and secure new ones for rice and paddy. With the budgetary measures, such as:
- the removal of all taxes and duties on imports for the industry including machinery, equipment, and spares,
- reversal of land lease fees,
- removal of VAT on pesticides and agro-chemicals,
- removal of VAT on exports
- Rehabilitation of farm to market access road – this will see the cost of production reduced and our competitiveness will be enhanced on the world market. Efforts will be made to develop a strategic plan to construct all-weather roads in the critical areas over a period of time. In effect, these measures will result in a reduction in the burden of the high cost of inputs, such as fertilizer and chemical, machinery and equipment of our farmers.
We will not stop there: –
- We will continue to aggressively address pest and disease, such as the paddy bug that is affecting farmers. – Immediate intervention has been made by providing 5 Mechanical Sprayer (Short Term) and for the Long Term – to have a National Action Plan to Combat this Pest.
- Farmers claiming of unfair grading of paddy at the mill (high moisture, excess dockage, inaccurate weigh) – GRDB stopped employing staff at the mill and this would have resulted in millers giving inaccurate results. Continue to invest heavily in research and development and extension. How do we fix it? ACommitment has been made to have GRDB & RPA reps at Mills to verify the intake of farmer’s paddy
Furthermore, we will produce and made accessible over 25,000 bags of seeds in 2020. These improved quality seeds will in turn result in improvement in productivity by 5 to 10%. Additionally, GRDB will embarked on a diversified seed production with farmers, where it is working with farmers across the rice-producing region to produced quality seeds.
And finally, Mr. Speaker, in 2020, with input from this budget, rice production is projected to increase by 4% to 709,082 metric tonnes, when compared to 2019.
OTHER CROPS – NATIONAL AGRICULTURE RESEARCH AND EXTENSION INSTITUTE
Mr. Speaker, indisputably COVID-19 delivered shocks to the economy and some serious challenges to our farmers and the food system. The majority of our farmers have experienced a significant decline in income between 20-50% over the last 4 months. Added to this burden, farmers are also facing challenges such as flooding, the outbreak of disease and pests etc.
While the situation is unfortunate, we see it is an opportunity to
accelerate transformations in the food and agriculture sector by building the resilience of our farmers.
The Ministry of Agriculture has put forward intervention that will support farmers, fishers, and value chain actors who are affected by COVID-19.
The National Research and Extension Institute in its quest to reduce the cost of inputs and at the same time promote climate-smart agriculture, will expend G$15.750 million for the acquisition of shade house materials (shade net and UV plastic) and sprinkler hoses. NAREI will sell the materials to farmers at the cost price, saving farmers over $5 million. The monies from this investment will be utilized as a revolving fund for future purchases of required materials for farmers. Further, crop farmers will benefit from the “Removal of VAT on fertilizers, agro-chemicals, pesticides.”
Mr. Speaker, Budget 2020 will inject $1.25 Billion in NAREI tocontinue to promote agricultural diversification with a focus on coconut, and horticulture by NAREI and Hope Coconut Estate. Coconut is the third most important crop and the coconut industry will be given prominence by: –
- Promoting expansion in acreages
- Utilization of coconut byproducts
- Increasing production/productivity.
In 2020, to increase access and reducing the cost of coconut planting material, we will establish two (2) coconut nurseries at Charity and Kairuni with the capacity to produce 25,000 additional seedings per year. In addition to NAREI and Hope Estate providing planting materials, farmers would be trained to establish their own nurseries.
Technical support would also be provided to farmers in the management of pests and disease, especially the Red Palm Mite (RPM). NAREI will wean the first batch of 50 in vitro coconut plantlets. This new initiative will allow farmers to have access to clean planting materials. To achieve this,.
Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, Budget 2020 addresses, “Special Incentives to be made available for planting corn and soybean.” Mr. Speaker,this will allow us toaggressively pursue plantation agriculture with the emphasis on corn and soybean. These commodities are the major ingredients in poultry feed and fish feed. We currently import close to US$24 Million worth of these commodities and intend to reduce importation in the next five years.
Incentives will be provided to investors for large scale production of corn and soybean. These include: –
- Access to land, tax holidays
- Exemption of duties on equipment for processing and machinery.
Initial work done by NAREI in collaboration with prospective investors has shown that these ventures are profitable.
Mr. Speaker, we will aggressively pursue agro-processing to reduce food loss and increase farmer’s income. The Guyana Marketing Corporation will facilitate agro-processors in this field and to take them to the next level. Budget 2020 gives “Tax concessions on Investment in Agro-processing Facilities, Cold Storage and Packaging” to provide opportunities for our agro-processors to grow, process, and trade more to increase their income. This is a start that we will continue to build on as the years’ progress.
For Budget 2020, Guyana Marketing Corporation has been allocated $236 million to:
- Support institutional market arrangement
- Strengthen value chain
- Work with farmers to be in compliance with quality standards and food safety systems
- Expand new high value/processed markets for Guyana products.
Measures must be executed to maintain and sustain the national food and nutrition security and safety and self-sufficiency status in the context of improving the quality of the livestock products and reducing domestic market prices to meet the need for the most vulnerable. Mr. Speaker, Budget 2020 will inject $750.5 Million in GLDA to improve the livestock industry.
To reduce the cost of production, incentivizing growth, and enhancing welfare, one of Budget 2020 measures is the “Removal of VAT on key inputs in the poultry industry and zero-rating of the poultry industry”
Mr. Speaker, the removal of VAT on key inputs in the poultry industry and zero-rating of the poultry industry will: –
Mr. Speaker, the zero-rated poultry industry incentive is designed to grow the sector at a faster rate and provide a better standard of living for the estimated 3000-5000 small poultry producers, by making equipment and supplies which are necessary for the successful rearing of poultry more affordable. The poultry industry of Guyana is one of the most important industries in the livestock subsector in terms of sustaining employment, and promoting subsistence livelihood, especially in rural communities.
It is also envisaged that the processing sector would use this initiative to retool and improve the processing process by adding value and create products such as poultry sausage, ham, cutlets, marinated chicken and other such products which are at the present time imported. It is expected that this would give the local farmers and processors a bigger share of the local poultry market as well as open the Caribbean market to fresh, frozen, and processed chicken from Guyana.
Mr. Speaker, we will continue to invest in livestock industry development. Budget 2020 places emphasis on improving the genetic and research capacity of the Mon Repos Farm as well as Ebini Research Station; we will provide appropriate breed stock inclusive of breeding boars and sows, Black Giant and Muscovy parent stock. Additionally, pasture development and research programmes will continue at Ebini.
Mr. Speaker, we will build two abattoirs, one in Region 3 and one in Region 5. We will work with the private sector to continue projects such as the new milk plant in Diamond, East Bank Demerara.
Current state leaves much to be desired. Budget 2020, will begin to address the mismanagement in the industry by injecting G$243 million in the Fisheries Department.
Application on VAT on input in the fisheries industry caused many fishermen to reduce or even abandoned their trade. They were left with unnecessary taxation to fend for themselves. Mr. Speaker, with the immediate withdrawal of VAT on fisheries inputs would see: –
Mr. Speaker, the lack of security for our fisher folks has left them to the mercy of the scourge elements that seek to make their trade more dangerous. Additionally, Mr. Speaker, as for those fisher folks who are left to the mercy of Suriname; this government will provide much-needed support to them through the diplomatic intervention of our Ministry of Foreign affairs.
Mr. Speaker, three (3) years after the ban on catfish imports from
Guyana by the United States, we are yet to see any progress. Mr. Speaker, imagine a US$1.8 million market is being neglected, processing plants were closed, staff sent home, fisherfolk suffered a loss of income, and yet the previous administration did nothing. Mr. Speaker, we will work with our businesses to comply with the regulatory requirements, work together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and US officials to try to revert the Catfish ban. And we will work to find new markets for our fishing businesses.
In 2020, we will ensure the sea monitoring vessel, is operational. This will: –
This is essential in aiding regulatory services to ensure compliance by the fishing industry thereby enabling maintenance of international markets.
INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT: DRAINAGE AND IRRIGATION & FARM TO MARKET ACCESS ROADS
Mr. Speaker, this sector depends heavily on addressing the deficiencies in the drainage systems and managing water in a structured manner.
Mr. Speaker, the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority and the Mahaica Mahaicony Abary – Agricultural Development Authority has been allocated G$8.8 Billion, almost 60% of the total budget of the Ministry of Agriculture to provide better drainage to prevent flooding and better irrigation to improve agriculture productivity. Even though Budget 2020 will only be for 4 months, the government will invest heavily to expand and strengthen the drainage and irrigation system and improve the farm to market transportation infrastructure and network.
Mr. Speaker, another $160 million have been earmarked to procure and supply of:
Mr. Speaker, $22 million has been allocated for agriculture expansion and improve support and infrastructure in the hinterland. Over 1200 acres of farmland will benefit in West Watooka, Linden with the execution of drainage and irrigation works. Including agriculture support in the form of agriculture equipment services to communities in Region 8 and 9 communities.
Mr. Speaker, $ 45 million have been earmarked to enhance drainage and irrigation system, including the commencement of the installation of a new pump at Trafalgar, Region 5 which will finally allow for the functioning of 4 pumps at the station for which it was designed. Designs will be done for pump stations at Andrews -Region 2, Cottage- Region 5, and Black Bush- Region 6 with the expectation of commencing construction in 2021. The proposed irrigation pump station for Black Bush is aimed at providing sufficient water to the front lands for rice cultivation.
Mr. Speaker, $42 million have been allocated for farm to market roads, in 2020 we have budgeted for the design of farm to market roads to upgrade the existing mud dam access for farm to market access roads, at 52-58, Region 6, Right Bank Mahaicony and Left Bank Mahaica, and Salem, Region 3, the Salem road will gain access to 15,000 acres of farmland. Of this $25 million will be spent for the continued extension of the Onverwagt Access Road and $5 million for the continuation of the Ebini farm to market road.
Mr. Speaker, $11 million will be expended to assist Georgetown’s drainage system, specifically, to reduce flooding in the Bourda Market area we will commence the North Road concrete drains. Additionally, South Ruimveldt, a major flood-prone area in the city will have its main drainage sluice rehabilitated.
12 high capacity drainage pumps for Regions 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, will be installed.
Mr. Speaker, the Ministry of Agriculture: –
- Will work on improving administrative and operational issues.
- Will move away from a reactive nature to a proactive, coordinated approach, to focus on the needs of our farmers.
- Will increase the performance levels of our agencies and departments
- Restructure projects where necessary
- Implement systems to coordinate, monitor, and control the development and operations of these plans.
- Will work with our all partners – private/public sector, international, NGOs, farmers’ organizations, civil society etc.to build on the measures of Budget 2020 for more efficiency and a results-oriented sector.
Mr. Speaker, despite the terminal state the PPP/C inherited from the APNU/AFC with regard to the state of the sugar industry, the draconian increases in fees to farmers, and the consistent neglect of the interest of our farmers, my ministry will transform the agriculture sector starting with the implementation of the outlined interventions in Budget 2020.
Mr. Speaker, there can be nothing more honourable than keeping one’s word, because when one doesn’t, he/she loses credibility and cannot be taken seriously.
I stand here to say that the PPP/C government is keeping its word not just to the sugar workers, but within the agricultural sector. The PPP/C is delivering on its word unlike my friends in the opposition who failed miserably to do so.
The Ministry of Agriculture programes are aligned with, “Our Plan for Prosperity: Protecting our people in a COVID-19 environment; Strengthening democracy and the rule of law; Incentivizing growth and job creation; and, Enhancing welfare.”
I, therefore, commend this budget to this house for its approval.