The ailing University of Guyana (UG), which has been the site and subject of much controversy recently has been earmarked to receive $900 million from government this year, which stakeholders said is ‘a drop in the ocean’.
Presenting the national budget in Parliament on Friday, Minister of Finance, Dr Ashni Singh, said also that $80 million has been allocated this year for UG’s US$10 million Science and Technology Project, towards the commencement of curriculum reform, research support, and infrastructure rehabilitation and another $450 million has been budgeted for the student loan programme.
The minister said this was to ensure that UG delivered quality education, which is a priority for the government.
A total of $26.5 billion has been allocated to the education sector, while $16.9 billion has been allocated to the health sector.
Contacted, President of the UG Students Society Duane Edwards said the money slated for the university was just “a small increase from last year… The $900 million, after you take out salaries and other mandatory funds will not be sufficient to impact UG’s infrastructural development. We are talking about a dilapidated campus here. I am not impressed at all.”
As it pertains to loans and the $80 million for curriculum reform, research support, and infrastructure rehabilitation under the US$10 million grant for science and technology project, he said, “We can live with that.” He added, “We are glad that the preparatory work was done so that the US$10 million loan can be released. That project will indeed help the university much and we are looking forward for its positive impact.”
Meanwhile, of the $26.5 billion for education, $1billion will go towards the continued implementation of the National and Hinterland School Feeding Programme. To continue teacher training and development over $1.2 billion have been allotted.
tation and maintenance of schools and other educational facilities countrywide. This includes the construction of Turkeyen Nursery School, the extension of Parika Salem Secondary School and Waramadong dormitory and teaching block. In addition, works on LBI, St Pius and Diamond Primary Schools, Leonora Secondary School and dormitories at Charity and Sand Creek Secondary schools, along with science and information technology laboratories are expected to be completed.”
Meanwhile in health, government’s fiscal year expenditure moved from $14.5 billion last year to $16.9 billion this year.
Further, $672 million have been allocated to start construction of the specialty hospital at Liliendaal. This project attracted some controversy and last week when it was revealed that it was only recently that the Ministry of Health sought geotechnical advice on the site, months after groundwork had started.
“$This 100-bed hospital, when completed, will allow Guyanese nationals, our wider Guyanese Diaspora and Caribbean nationals access to the best quality tertiary health care at an affordable cost, including in the areas of cardiology, nephrology, oncology, intensive care services, along with supporting laboratory services, clinical services, training and research,” Singh said.
He added that a further $948 million had been earmarked to construct, rehabilitate and maintain health infrastructure across the country.
Transforming the Mahaica and Linden hospital buildings into treatment and rehabilitative facilities to help address drug and alcohol problems that have been on the increase over the years was also announced.
Another $387 million were budgeted for the training and improvement of public health personnel. Singh stated that some 250 Cuba-trained Guyanese doctors will return this year and be deployed countrywide.