Gov’t continues exploring options to address cost of living
The PPP/C Government has consistently demonstrated a proactive approach and humanitarian instinct in addressing emerging challenges and crafting policies to promote the well-being of Guyanese.
In alignment with this aim, the 2024 budget is investing in a brighter future for Guyanese, outlining additional measures to combat the rising cost of living and empowering citizens with opportunities to thrive.
Recognising the impact of the El Niño phenomenon on key food-producing countries, Guyana has set aside the sum of $7 billion to aid in mitigating price increases.
Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance and Public Service, Dr Ashni Singh, said the money will be spent following consultations with stakeholders.
“The government has provided significant support in D&I (drainage and irrigation), along with the distribution of fertilizers to farmers to maintain production, while also aiding in mitigating price increases to the consumers,” he told the National Assembly during the budget presentation on January 17.
These and other agricultural interventions are designed to tackle food insecurity and alleviate financial burdens.
As a result, prices for most local produce remain stable at major markets. For example, based on a recent price assessment at the major markets, persons can purchase a pound of eschalot for $380 at the Stabroek Market, $300 at the Skeldon Market, and $350 at the Rosignol Market.
A slight increase has been recorded at the Vreed-En-Hoop and Parika markets, as a pound of eschalot costs $400 and $500 respectively.
The government has recognised that the rising cost of living has had adverse impacts on the country’s economy and its people, and has sought to implement measures aimed at containing the impact of price increases.
As part of this aim, direct interventions have been put in place, such as the removal of taxes on data, electricity, and water.
The government has also maintained zero per cent excise tax on petroleum products since March 2022 amidst fluctuating global fuel prices.
“As world market fuel prices remain volatile, we remain responsive to absorbing the impact of elevated fuel prices as a means of mitigating the transfer of higher fuel costs to the Guyanese people. This measure will be kept in place while fuel prices remain elevated. At current prices, this measure results in government foregoing an estimated $40 billion annually,” the senior minister noted.
This year, the government will also partner with commercial banks to lower the interest rates on loans up to $5 million, thereby reducing the cost of financing for business owners, and stimulating the development and expansion of small and medium enterprises.
The part-time jobs programme has also significantly impacted countless households since its commencement, with more slated to benefit through its $10 billion budgetary allocation.
The well-crafted employment initiative allows one person per household to work in public offices for 10 days per month and earn $40,000. The programme reflects a strong commitment to supplementing household income and fostering job creation.
In 2023, over 15,000 persons were employed through the programme, placing over $6 billion in disposable income into these households.
That same year, some $5 billion was allocated for cost-of-living measures, and this amount saw public servants, teachers, and members of the disciplined services, as well as staff of semi-autonomous agencies and public enterprises receiving a $25,000 one-off tax-free cash grant in December.
This year’s budget is 46.6 per cent larger than last year’s estimates, imposes no new taxes, and is partially financed by revenue earned from Guyana REDD+Investment Fund (GRIF) under the original Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS).
Guyana’s real economy is projected to experience a growth rate of 34.3 per cent, with an anticipated inflation rate of 2.5 per cent for the current year.
Even though the inflation rates are expected to continue trending low this year, the government is keen on providing additional support and assistance to Guyanese to ensure optimal living conditions.