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President Irfaan Ali said that his Government will have a national consultation on the best options to address the rising cost of living, with the intent of easing financial difficulties on Guyanese.
He noted that having meetings with a cross-section of stakeholders would allow for open and frank discussions in addressing “this multifaceted problem that we are faced with”.
The Head of State made this announcement on Tuesday afternoon while pointing to the global challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, which are now heightened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“So as if COVID-19 was not enough, the war in Ukraine came upon us, taking out close to 40% of global wheat production, taking the price of oil to as much as $126 per barrel, driving up the costs of transportation, cutting off supplies, and if this was not enough, China with just an emergence of a few [Covid-19] cases, has gone into lockdown again,” Ali is quoted in a release by his office as saying.
President Ali assured that his Government is “aggressively” tackling the issue and examining the best approach.
“We have already started discussions, and the Government will be continuing that aggressively with a cross-section of Guyanese and communities so that we can come up with the best possible approach; listening to ideas, listening to some of the connected issues and then coming up with some policies.”
$5B IN RELIEF MEASURES
He reminded that nearly $5b has been earmarked in the 2022 Budget towards various interventions aimed at easing the burden of the rising cost of living.
Earlier this month, the Head of State assured that dealing with issues affecting the cost of living is at the top of his Government’s agenda and is being tackled head-on.
Since taking office, the Government has introduced several measures to put more disposable income into the pockets of Guyanese. From the onset, Value Added Tax (VAT) was removed from water and electricity.
There has also been a constant increase in old-age pension and public assistance, which in 2022 put $2.3b and $432m into the pockets of Guyanese.
Additionally, the PPP/C Government reinstated the ‘Because we Care’ cash grant and school uniform grant, which stands at $30,000 per child in both public and private schools.
The Government has also cut excise tax on fuel on several occasions in light of rising fuel prices since taking office.
“We have reduced it to a point where I think it’s at 10% …so that has been continuously done without anyone calling for that…”