Budget preparations proceeding apace- Finance Minister Jordan

The newly appointed Minister of Finance Winston Jordan has already begun extensive consultations with high-level ministry staffers with a view to completing and presenting the National 2015 Budget. The minister, who is a highly qualified financial expert, said that he inherited some of the groundwork which was already laid out by the previous sector minister Dr Ashni Singh. These preparations were made based on the previous government’s priorities, but now the focus will be changed to reflect the agenda of the new A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Administration. Minister Jordan explained that he has spoken to most of his senior staffers, including those from the Statistics Bureau, the Accountant General’s Department, the Bank of Guyana and several others.“They have given me an indication of where we are at, and now I am trying to put that in some kind of framework, to get a preliminary assessment of the state of the economy, and how we, ourselves can begin to set our own targets, for this truncated physical year, and at the same time looking ahead to what we will have to do to frame the budget for 2016”. Asked about Guyana’s economic performance for 2015, Minister Jordan replied that during a transition meeting with his predecessor, he was informed that a growth of 3.9 to 4% is expected. This figure was projected, taking into consideration a full financial year, the minister said. “Seeing that we have some numbers now of the performance in the first almost half of the year, we need to make some projections on what is it is going to be for the next half and come up with some new projections and that is what we are doing right now”. As part of efforts to craft a new structure for the Finance Ministry, Minister Jordan pointed out that a suitably qualified person has been found to head a “Macro Economic Section” that he intended to set up. He said that this was because budgets were being produced without this over-arching framework, within which such major documents should be undertaken. Too often these frameworks have been developed outside of Guyana, he stated, “In other words, experts come in, mostly from the World Bank, IMF and so on. They come in for short periods and I want to really have the in-house capability to develop this and to be discussing it with these teams when they come in for their annual visits”. It would also be good to have this aforementioned background, in which to develop various projects which the new government may wish to undertake. It will also help with the development of the administration’s strategic medium and long-term plan according to its manifesto, he added. Moving ahead, Minister Jordan is looking forward to full cooperation from the agencies which come under the ambit of the Finance Ministry, and his Cabinet colleagues. He is asking for the general population to have patience. “I know they are clamouring for us to do a whole range of things. In time I know, most if all will be done. I’m asking that they give us this little time, as we begin to put things in place so that these promises that we made can be realised”. The outside date for the National Budget’s presentation to the National Assembly is three months after the convening of the 11th Parliament, around the end of August 2015. The Finance Minister is optimistic, however that this process will be completed long before then, given the implications for the following 2016 National Budget. Minister Jordan originally joined the Finance Ministry in 1985 as Budget Director and after resigning in 1994, was asked to return as a consultant where he worked until 2008. He was appointed to his current post on May 20.