A new think tank has emerged that analyzes and dissects budget and public policy issues in Guyana. The Guyana Budget & Policy Institute (GBPI) aims to bring attention to a range of issues that affect the quality of life of residents, economic growth, health, education, job creation, and income through the lens of the national budget and policies.
“Often, there is a mismatch between the needs of the people and public investments needed for improving the quality of life of people and growing the economy and the priorities of the government as reflected by its annual budget allocations,” said Dr. John Shivdat, Founding President of the Board of Directors of GBPI.
“Budget allocations are not just expenditures; they are a reflection of the priorities of the government,” notes Shivdat.
Currently, there is no independent organization that critically analyzes public policies to allow for a serious and balanced debate about the need and potential impact of policies on families, businesses and the economy. As a result, the public is limited only to the views of one side or is totally excluded from any debate on policies that would ultimately impact the lives of everyone. GBPI seeks to bridge this gap by providing evidence-based, timely, and easy-to-read analysis of budget decisions and policies to encourage broader public engagement and more informed public policies.
There is also a notable gap in public discourse about exactly how to grow the economy, help struggling families get on a path to prosperity and build a strong foundation for sustained economic success.
“Too often lawmakers talk about economic growth, development, and improved standard of living as though they are objects instead of policy outcomes or goals. In doing so, they have ignored the crucial role of the national budget, tax and social policies in creating opportunities for families to get ahead, encouraging business success and growing the economy,” said Dhanraj Singh, Founder and Executive Director of GBPI.
One of the GBPI’s publications – Government’s Budget for 2017 Focuses on the Wrong Priorities and is Unlikely to Spur Economic Growth – finds inadequate funding for critical services such as early education and economic opportunities, and key economic sectors such as agriculture and the environment despite an overall increase in total expenditures. Also, the budget includes changes in the tax laws that make the system of taxation more regressive – unfairly burdening low-income families. Moreover, the report highlights the growing cost of administration, raising critical questions about the economic rationale behind certain allocations and the efficiency of public administration.
“When people pay taxes, they are giving up hard earned dollars that could have been used to pay for their children’s education, put more food on the table, invest in a roof over their heads, or invest in their future. Thus, it is incumbent upon lawmakers to ensure tax revenues are used in the most efficient manner with the highest return in terms of jobs, improved services, incomes, and economic growth for the greater good of society,” said Singh.
The Institute’s staffs come from an internationally diverse background with a range of expertise including policy research and analysis, public health and safety, economics, finance, international development, and social policy.
“With such a diverse team of experts, I am confident the Institute will make a significant and meaningful impact on the lives of Guyanese,” added Singh.
You can visit the Institute’s website at www.gbpi.institute and subscribe for updates and get information on how you can support the work of the Institute.