Cost of living: ‘Gov’t open to all viable policy options’
– Finance Minister
Minister of Finance, Hon. Dr. Ashni Singh says the Government is exploring avenues to bring relief to Guyanese, following the recent increases in the cost of living.
The Finance Minister made this disclosure during a recent interview with social media commentator “Guyanese Critic.”
“I can tell you that we are certainly open to the extent that there are some items that have some room that we can adjust on taxes… As a Government, we are open to all viable policy options.
We are under no illusion of the nature of the challenge. We know that this is a situation that exists.”
The interview was conducted shortly before the Government went to the National Assembly seeking approval for its $23 billion supplementary budget. Minister Singh said the Government is cognizant of the challenges brought on by the hike in prices. This is due to heightened costs in manufacturing and shipping globally, a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the decrease global trade market.
“We have been operating in an environment where the global economy is facing challenges. A number of commodities on the global market have had issues with supply.
As a result of COVID-19, a lot of manufacturers and suppliers have had to scale back and introduce social distancing. It is not business as usual, so there is an issue on the supply side.”
The Minister pointed out that these “extraordinary challenges” are not unique to Guyana, but are affecting other countries as well.
As part of relief efforts, the Government had moved to reverse taxes on a range of utility services and items when it took office in August 2020. Some of these include the removal of value-added tax on electricity, water, healthcare, education and even construction material. The Government estimates that these tax reversals have returned some $20 billion into the pockets of Guyanese.
Notwithstanding these relief efforts, the prices for commodities have still increased, the Minister said. As such, he gave assurances that the Government will assess all options to determine what form its intervention will take.