Minister Gaskin said that the budget balances very carefully people’s needs, as well as businesses’. “It’s our biggest budget ever, $250 Billion and with revenues of $218 Billion which is a deficit of $32 Billion which, in the general scheme of things, is not abnormal or anything like that, nothing to be alarmed or concerned about for a developing country such as Guyana,” Gaskin said.
During the Budget in Focus programme the Minister said that his concern for 2017 is promoting investments, and value added exports, with ensuring inclusivity in terms of creating better opportunities for the vulnerable, utilising a number of different agencies and departments.
The Small Business Bureau (SBB), which is responsible for developing small businesses, Minister Gaskin said, does a lot of work with training and provides access to subsidise loans. Gaskin also noted that a new council has been set up and its members are very vibrant.
The Bureau of Standards which does a lot of work in promoting standards is involved in economic development and there is a lot of capacity building taking place in that aspect.
Gaskin also highlighted some key long- term investments concerning the Ministry of Business one of which is the Single Window Automated Processing System which swaps with trade facilitation measures. This deals with computerising Government’s business transactions. The Minister noted that with the tie in with the system which is now being implemented at the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) and, “once it’s up and running, and the two can integrate, and we get one giant integrated processing system that businesses can access online with a single window, that will significantly reduce the time it takes to do transactions. It reduces the scope for human intervention on the first come first serve basis. We are looking forward to really having that system up and running,” the Minister said.
He next spoke of the Industrial Estates, stating that the Ministry of Business is developing the industrial estate in Lethem using a new model. Minister Gaskin noted that it is an ongoing project that he would like to see conclude early in mid-2018. As it relates to investors for the estate, with the right strategies, the right investors will come, which will be a boost for the local economy he opined.