Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
The Opposition, A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC), came out swinging against the government’s recent boast that the economy is doing well. According to the Ministry of Finance’s Mid-Year Report, Guyana recorded an overall real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of 36.4 per cent and the second half is expected to be just as favourable, with real GDP growth for 2022 projected at 56 percent.
However, it is the Opposition’s view that the Mid-Year Report tells a different story. At its recent press conference, they said that the indicators show the economy (i) is still beset with rising inflation, (ii), is underperforming in several key areas, (iii) is showing emerging signs of the Dutch Disease, (iv) is devoid of measures to offer further cost of living relief to the citizens, and (v) generally falls way short of its advanced billing as being underpinned by Guyana’s first oil-based budget.
This year’s Budget is GUY$597.6 billion. Guyana is expected to earn US$1billion in oil revenue.
According to the Opposition for the first half of the year the CPI (Consumer Price Index) “increased by 4.9 percent when compared with the index at the end of 2021” which means cost of living has climbed to 10.6% since last year.
Pointing to food prices this has risen by some 11.6% in 2021 but by June this year prices have increased by a further 8.1%. Projecting a likely increase of 25% higher than 2022’s Christmas, forecast Christmas 2022 will not be a bright one.
To the average man and woman, they are paying significantly more to purchase less. For instance, a bottle of propane (cooking) gas that was sold for $3500 earlier this year is now $5000; a pound of sugar has increased from $80 to $120; a tray of eggs has jumped from $900 to $1600. Wages and salary have remained stagnant and where real income has not kept pace with price increases the economic reality is harsh for ordinary people.
Apparently in deference to the cost for a basket of goods the Opposition highlighted that salary increases for public servants below 25% would have little or no impact on their true purchasing power. The AFC, in an earlier statement, has called for a minimum of 50% increase.
The party said it was reminding “the Unions and the PPP administration that back in 2016, with a budget of $230 billion the PPP representatives, at the level of the National Assembly, called for a 50% increase to be given to public servants. So certainly, with the allocations for 2022 being $597.6 Billion to date, negotiations should most certainly begin at a minimum of 50%.”
This cost-of-living escalation demands a response, said the Opposition, because “none of the measures in the 2022 budget has worked.” Going further in pointing out that “only $1.8 billion of the $5 billion budgeted for cost-of-living relief has been used” the opposition accused the government of being clueless, stingy and denying the Guyanese people a decent quality of life.