Finance Minister Winston Jordan delivered his maiden address to the National Assembly on Friday and promised to put up a stronger fight against poverty, while ensuring Guyana is better positioned on the world market.
Jordan assured that Guyanese can look forward to greater financial accountability from the new APNU+AFC government since he believes there is a direct correlation between unaccountable governments and persistent poverty.
The Finance Minister said the coalition government will go after the scourge of corruption wherever it exists. “To tackle poverty we must root out corruption. Big corruption or small corruption, it is still corruption and we have to go after it,” Jordan implored his Parliamentary colleagues.
He guaranteed that the government will not be side-tracked with cries of witch-hunting but will go after persons fingered in corrupt acts since it remains a big factor in the persistence of poverty.
The Finance Minister detailed several steps the new government has already embarked upon as it seeks to weed out corruption and strengthen accountability.
He said already the government has closed several dormant government accounts and placed the monies from those accounts into the consolidated fund where they can be better protected against theft.
Additionally, the President David Granger administration has instituted dozens of forensic audits at State agencies and according to the Finance Minister, “despite the hot air being blown, the government will not be moved.”
He explained that “the audits are not only to find whether misuse or misallocation occurred but any government worth its salt would be foolish not to do this to know what they have and what they don’t.”
The Minister turned his attention to the state of the Consolidated Fund which the APNU+AFC inherited from the previous government with a $60 Billion deficit.
To this end, he assured that work has started on trying to reconcile that deficit and place extra budgetary funds into the Consolidated Fund.
The government is also looking at reforming the current procurement system and is expected to put in place by next week, a new National Procurement and Tender Administration Board.
Mr. Jordan said the coalition government is not shying away from its promise to establish the Public Procurement Commission. He called on the opposition People’s Progressive Party to take up its seats in the National Assembly since the Commission would need its support to be established.
Jordan boasted of his ability to ensure stable macro economic growth. He said he will put an end to the “catch up” game that the previous government had played in this regard.
He promised better management of the emerging sectors such as oil and gas and greater engagement with the Diaspora.
The Finance Minister also announced that he will be leaving Guyana on Saturday to head a delegation to neighbouring Venezuela to seek a new petrocaribe rice and oil deal.