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Once a land that embraced the motto of “let’s feed, clothes and house ourselves”, Guyana is now grappling with a harsh reality. The rising cost of living had cast a dark shadow over the lives of its citizens, leaving many in desperate situations. Nearly half of the population struggled to survive on less than $5.50 USD per day, constantly hoping for a stroke of luck or a helping hand from the government or their loved ones abroad. So citizens today are extremely grateful for the “because we care” cash grants, which amount to $4000 Gy / child per school month; a paltry sum which will be gone with one trip to the supermarket but a sum for which desperate families are entire grateful.
Families are similarly grateful for remittances they receive from overseas. The Guyanese diaspora continues to generously contribute over $400 million USD to their homeland annually. On average, this amounts to a monthly sum of $175 USD per household. Compared to the cash grant, it is significant, but still not enough.
Basic necessities such as rice, flour, and sugar have become unaffordable for the majority. The market shelves groaned under the weight of exorbitantly priced food items, leaving families struggling to make ends meet. A mere $5,000 could no longer sustain a household’s needs for long, as prices soared beyond reach. A pound of sugar, once priced at $70, now demanded $150 or even $160 in some places. Even the humble Karibee rice, a staple for many, saw its price skyrocket from $2,000 to $2,500 per pack. The cost of oil, a necessity for cooking, had also become prohibitive.
Desperation fills the hearts but not the bellies of the people as they navigate the escalating cost of living, particularly parents like Anita, who has to provide for her young son. Despite her best efforts, she found herself spending more money than she could save. To stretch her limited funds, Anita resorted to scouring the markets, walking from stall to stall in search of the cheapest options. The rising prices of basic food items, like milk, left her deeply concerned. A small pack of Turbo milk now cost a staggering $860, compared to the $400 or $500 it used to be. Even locally grown produce like plantains had become a luxury, with a pound priced at $260, while it used to be a mere $60 or $80.
Anita believed it was high time for the government to address the dire situation. She longed for them to investigate the soaring cost of living, particularly the unjustifiably high prices of essential food items. Anita’s sentiments resonated with many struggling families in Guyana. They plead for an increase in salaries that would reflect the skyrocketing prices in the markets. A monthly income of $60,000 is barely enough to provide for a household with three or four children. The gap between earnings and expenses was widening, and the consequences were dire.
Citizens are thankful for the “Because we care” cash grants. Citizens are hungry. Citizens are desperate. Citizens need relief.