Jan 16, 2022 News
Kaieteur News – The People’s National Congress Reform (PNC/R) faction of Guyana’s political opposition has made suggestions that they believe will bring a measure of relief to citizens, amidst escalating inflation rates.
On Friday, during the party’s weekly press conference, the Leader, Aubrey Norton, registered his recommendations to the governing People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C).
He said, “with the World Bank projecting real growth of 49.7 percent in 2022 and with the government expected to raid the Natural Resource Fund (NRF) of the entire sum of US$607 million (G$122 billion), under the disputed and highly contentious NRF Act 2021, the PNC/R calls upon the government to craft a budget 2022 that will bring relief to the Guyanese people and transform their lives in a meaningful way.”
In this regard, Norton stated that the budget must be “people-centred” rather than continue to pander on an elite section of the private sector.
The implementation of a COVID-19 risk allowance for frontline workers on a six months basis of $50,000, until the pandemic has been officially declared over by the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/ WHO), was among the suggestions made by Norton.
In addition to this, he called for an interim wages and salaries increase for public servants of 10 percent, pending the start and finalisation of Government/Union talks, which should end in workers receiving at least a 25 percent increase.
When it comes to the Old Age Pension, and persons living with difficult circumstances, an increase of $10,000 should be granted, Norton posited.
To bring further relief, he suggested an overhaul of the income tax threshold.
In fact, he recommended that the income tax threshold be increased to $1.5 million or one third of gross earnings, “whichever is higher, from the present $780,000” and that changes be made in the Income Tax Law to ensure that the minimum wage is never taxed. Norton also said that the income tax rate should be restructured to “the first $3 million of chargeable income 15 percent, the next $3 million 20 percent and the balance 25 percent.
When it comes to the agriculture sector, Norton was sure to express his disappointment to media operatives that President Irfaan Ali has been mismanaging the economy through “ad hoc” handouts of cash and even a new experimental initiative to implement the use of fish cages to bring comfort to those suffering from dwindling fish catches.
In this regard, the party leader suggested that programmes such as Rural Agricultural Infrastructure Development (RAID), which was implemented under the Coalition government to develop sustainable farming in communities such as Buxton, Beterverwagting, Mocha and Ithaca, be revitalised and expanded to other villages, with necessary government support in the form of financing, extension services, marketing and sales.
He pointed out, “It is estimated that between 2018 and 2020, $6 billion was spent on the importation of carrots, broccoli and cauliflower. This is tragic, given the agriculture potential of the country and the resilience of our farmers. We therefore call for an immediate reversal of this trend.”
Further to this, he recommended that grants of up to $5 million be made available to start-ups, micro, small and even medium businesses.
Government should also set aside $5 billion to implement a programme of infrastructure renewal in depressed villages and communities, which would address roads, drains, community and recreational centres, markets and other areas in need of attention, Norton added.
His list of recommendations also included that government should earmark a sum of money to conduct an immediate survey of poverty in the entire country so as to better target ameliorative policies and measures.
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