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The A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) has lambasted Minister Ashni Singh’s announcement that gasoline and diesel prices dropped at the state-run Guyana Oil Company Ltd (GUYOIL). Gasoline moved from $269 per litre to $215 per litre, representing a 20 % reduction, and diesel from $265 per litre to $225 per litre, representing a % percent reduction.
The changes which took effect on Sunday are only seen at GUYOIL pumps. According to the Opposition this effort is half-hearted and will bring little relief to those families who are most in need of cost-of-living support. “What it does demonstrate is that when, earlier this year, the government said nothing more could be done about high prices at the pump, the government was clearly lying to the nation.”
Last June the APNU+AFC recommended “the government should ensure gas prices do not increase above a determined level by compensating suppliers for any price increases where the excise tax reductions have already been exhausted. This will help to bring prices down across a wide basket of goods, thereby easing the cost-of-living crisis.” The government did not act on the recommendation.
Though the PPP’s cuts in gas and diesel prices in no way approach the large scale of our idea, the government could have offered this relief much earlier, given the persistently elevated international oil prices, said the coalition. “In fact, the Bank of Guyana mid-year report indicates that because of the high oil price, Guyana earned almost a third more revenue than expected. Yet the PPP refused to budge and has only now, with understandable shame, meekly announced these cuts through its minister in the Office of the President responsible for finance.”
Sharing accordance with the advice of the IMF in its September 2022 report on its Article IV Consultation with Guyana, the APNU+AFC is calling on the government to heed said advice which draws attention to easing the burden of prices on the most vulnerable groups of society by gradually unwinding untargeted measures and instead further develop and strengthen a well-targeted social safety net.
The opposition is therefore calling on the government to urgently introduce an Electricity Bill Relief for Low Income Households “In this scheme, households whose total monthly light bill is less than a specified dollar amount (a cap) will not be required to pay GPL. Instead, the GoG will stand the costs and compensate GPL for the total amount forgone. The cap must be chosen to cover as many low-income households as possible. Those whose light bills are above the cap will continue to pay GPL as per norm for now.”
Touting the advantages of the Bill the proposed subsidy is expected to “ (i) effectively target those who are most in need of assistance, (ii) exploit the fact that monthly energy consumption is a reliable and consistent proxy measure of household income, (iii) as the scheme will use the existing GPL billing system, administrative costs to delivery benefits will be minimal for the government, and participation costs non-existent for beneficiaries, (iv) the use of a cap can incentivize households to become more energy conscious in using electricity, and (v) benefits are predictable and continuous (not one-off).”
Turning attention to government officials the coalition shared “now that President Ali and his ministers have hopefully settled down from their overindulgences in national fetes,” they are being reminded of the serious pressures and hardships still faced by the Guyanese people.”
As the next government, we have crafted and will implement these and other measures to guarantee every Guyanese a high quality of life, the coalition differentiated.