May 17, 2022 News
…as President announces additional measures to cushion increased cost of living
By Gary Eleazar
Kaieteur News – With the global inflation and cost of living at record highs, Head of State, President Irfaan Ali, on Monday announced another raft of measures aimed at assisting Guyanese to cushion the impacts of the global phenomenon.
The President in a ‘Live’ address to the nation prefaced his announcements by pointing to the key factors behind the status quo and pointed to the global pandemic which has led to supply chain hiccups.
He cited as example the fact that the freight charges has escalated seven times over what it was pre pandemic and this has in large part led to an increase imported commodities.
President Ali noted too that key among the reasons for the more recent escalation in commodity prices is the war with Ukraine and Russia.
Those two countries he said, are significant global suppliers when it comes to items such as wheat, corn and natural gas used to produce urea (fertilizer).
He noted too that the countries also supply a large chunk of oil and noted that with the war in progress, oil prices are now US$114 per barrel on the world market.
As such, the President said, as a result of numerous consultations with Guyanese across the country, he would be accessing some $1.8B of the $5B that was allocated in the 2022 Budget for additional relief.
He pointed to the sweeping measures already meted out to Guyanese to assist with the increase cost of living such as the COVID cash grants, the school children grants, the money paid out to sugar workers and flood affected farmers, the increase in pension and public assistance, among others.
As such, according to President Ali, “notwithstanding the sweeping range of measures we already implemented, I wish to announce further measures.”
Measures, he assured, benefited from widespread consultations that government has had and will continue to have in order to determine future interventions.
Among the measures announced by President Ali is another set of one-off cash grant payments.
This time, the target group, according to the President would be the riverain and hinterland communities.
To this end, the President said that each household in those communities will be benefitting from a one-off cash grant of $25,000 per household. This, he said, is expected to cost the coffers some $800M.
The President said too that among the high cost of fertilizer has translated into increase prices on the markets and as such another of the measures would be to assist farmers with this.
He noted that fertilizer accounts for as much as 30 to 40 percent of the overhead costs for farmers and that this is being passed on to consumers as the price for fertilizers on the world market has skyrocketed.
To this end, he said government will be purchasing $1B in fertilizer (urea) and that this will be distributed free to farmers.
This, he said, is expected to reduce the cost of production while at the same time allowing the farmers to scale up their production levels.
As it relates to construction as a result of government’s extensive housing drive, President Ali said it was found that even though some 20,000 house lots have already been given out, during the consultations it was found that many persons were having difficulties either accessing financing or managing construction.
To this end, he said, government would be putting a host of systems in place as part of a government home construction assistance facility.
According to President Ali, under this initiative, there will be a unit established for persons who would like assistance to register.
Assistance, he said, would be had through a number of ways including government helping to construct the homes on behalf of applicants.
He said too that there will be different categories of assistance and as such government was looking to take some of the burden off of the home owners most of whom would have never constructed before and are unable to manage the complex challenges.
According to the President, government will in future be working more closely with the applicants, commercial banks and contractors with a view to having a comprehensive solution to the problem being brought under one umbrella.
Additionally, he said, government would also be removing the Value Added Tax from additional construction material namely sheet rock and concrete boards. This, until there is some sense of return to stability with regards the price.
With some $3B still remaining in the special allocation in the Budget, the President said there will be continued consultations with a view to determining further interventions in the future.
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