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The Alliance For Change (AFC) has been calling on the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) government to put measures in place to tackle rising cost of living and household income to no avail. The party, at a press conference on Friday, reminded of their repeated calls to ease the socio-economic sufferings of vulnerable groups in society, predating the October 2022 World Bank Report.
The Report presented data that shows at least half the society lives on less than GY$1000.00 (US$5.5) per day, pointing out that whilst Guyana’s economy is growing at an extraordinary rate, poverty has been on the increase. The government has attempted to counter the Bank’s data claiming the statistics are from 2019 when the A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) was in government. However, quite evident in the Bank’s report was reliance on current data.
In light of the dire conditions the party has repeated its urging to the government to act now to arrest the socio-economic deficiencies in society. “We call on the PPP to give the elderly a pension so that they can live, and we reinforce our call for public servants to be given a decent salary increase of at least 50%. These calls are justifiable, particularly when the World Bank is reporting that ‘Oil production, and consequently real GDP, is expected to jump in 2022 with real GDP expected to more than double by 2023, pushing per capita income to over US$20,000 at the current nominal exchange rate.”
The AFC made it clear resources are available to bring relief to the society and it cannot be business as usual for the PPP when people cannot afford a decent meal, and when people living in poverty are seeing their squatting homes bulldozed to the ground.
The party is demanding policy measures be put in place to tackle rising cost of living and ensure funds from oil and gas are directed to the Guyanese people.
Full statement follows: –
Statement on the World Bank Fact sheet on Guyana
The Factsheet on Guyana as presented by the World Bank in the most recent update on October 3rd, 2022, spoke to the hardships being faced by Guyanese in an oil producing economy. The situation as portrayed by the data presented in the factsheet of the World Bank report is what is lived by Guyanese daily, Poverty, Income loss, and High Infant Mortality rate. The report also highlights
significant risks that the country faces with emphasis being placed on management of the oil resources, the quality of spending and the Dutch disease.
The World Bank fact sheet speaks to the most recent data on poverty stating that 48% of Guyanese are living on less than $1000 per day; this data sadly does not take into consideration the inflation rate as experienced in Guyana from 2020 to now, particularly the inflation rate for basic food items.
The report also stated, and I quote “In 2021, 71.6 percent of Guyanese households had experienced income loss compared to January 2020 levels — with the most severe impact typically found in low-income households.” End of quote. Income loss is not a figment of our imagination, as the bureau of statistics’ last report stated that youth unemployment is at 31.9% and the bank of Guyana half year report stated that Public Sector employment fell by 10.9 percent at end of June 2022. This is particularly due to lower employment within the Central Government by 17.7 per cent.
These are real issues being faced by Guyanese and there are no efforts being made by the PPP administration to even attempt to remedy or provide aid to the most vulnerable people in society.
And when information from the Bureau of Statistics and the Bank of Guyana is examined, it is clear that more Guyanese are currently living in poverty today, with oil resources, than were living in poverty in 2019, without oil resources.
The fact sheet also substantiated that fact by pointing out that the negative impacts of the pandemic persisted in 2021 with about half of households (49 percent) reportedly experiencing lower total household income compared to the period before the pandemic.
The Alliance For Change has been calling on the PPP to put measures in place to tackle the issue of household income prior to this updated report and we urge the PPP administration to act now to arrest these issues. We call on the PPP to give the elderly a pension so that they can live, and we reinforce our call for public servants to be given a decent salary increase of at least 50%. These calls are justifiable, particularly when the world bank is reporting that and I quote “Oil production, and consequently real GDP, is expected to jump in 2022 with real GDP expected to more than double by 2023, pushing per capita income to over US$20,000 at the current nominal exchange rate.”
The resources are available, and it cannot be business as usual for the PPP when people cannot afford a decent meal, and when people living in poverty are seeing their squatting homes bulldozed to the ground. The report of the World bank should be used as a call to action by the PPP, particularly when the report stated, and I quote, “Increasing oil and gas revenues will allow financing of significant budget outlays to address development needs and tackle poverty”, end of quote. The Alliance For Change calls on the PPP to put policy measures in place to tackle the rising cost of living and to ensure that the funds from oil and gas are directed to the Guyanese people.