Jul 05, 2022 Editorial
Kaieteur News – In a country that has all these dazzling numbers, these mouthwatering projections, and prospects over what it has in its offshore oil and gas fields, it is a disgrace, when something as basic as cooking gas is so expensive for the many Guyanese who now use this commodity. We are so rich in textbook and spreadsheet numbers, yet there is the reality that will not go away of so many of our people gasping for breath, in how they find it unaffordable for this most routine exercise in daily living, that is, cooking.
Firewood largely gave away to kerosene which slowly gave ground to cooking gas as the main fuel for preparing food. Many poorer Guyanese proudly invested in a gas-powered appliance, in what was a great expense. It was of a sacrifice being made, in that other things had to be given up or held up due to the down payment and the monthly bill that came due to hire purchase sellers. What some other citizens may take for granted, is not an easy undertaking for other Guyanese. The problem now is that their burden, their sacrifice, is being further added to through cooking gas prices that are sure to have already followed suit, given that gasoline price went up from $250 per litre to $269 per litre, because the experience is that they go hand-in-hand (see “Subsidize fuel importers cost above pre-determined prices to ease high cost woes -Economist to Govt.” (KN July 3). As the strapline to that caption noted, this is “as citizens struggling with cooking gas and transportation prices in oil producing country.”
Poorer citizens, usually wage earners at the bottom of the economic ladder, are definitely struggling, which most would quickly confirm. Daily, the local media (foreign ones too) overflow about how rich this society is, and how well its economy is doing. The question, the issue, the concern boil down to this: for whom? It is not the little people of Guyana, the ones who really can’t afford to fill up their tanks, but are reduced to what is called ‘topping up’ to keep going until they get some more change in their hands to repeat the process. Those not owning their own vehicles face rising public transportation costs, and we are not speaking of taxis, which is a luxury for the citizen-in-the-street Guyanese. And when those same struggling ones face the fire, there is the rising heat of cooking gas prices that makes them sweat because of the money that they may very well not have at that moment, given that in the matter of a mere year, cooking gas price increased by $1,000 or over 21 percent. This is in an oil producing nation, and it shouldn’t be.
One economist has called for some form of subsidy to fuel importers and vouchers above stated levels, which would help to cushion the impacts of rising prices with fuel (gasoline and cooking gas), and overall cost of living pressures. We think that that is a recommendation that the Government should listen to, and not just scornfully dismiss, because it originated from an Opposition source. The PPP/C Government and its leaders have been running around to selected neighbourhoods to dispense temporary relief monies in varying amounts. We think that, as helpful as those are, there is a need to come up with a comprehensive package that extends relief to Guyanese whoever they are, and wherever they may be. We see this as more of governance, and less of the regular politics.
On a revealing note, there can be no denying that this PPP/C Government has been lavish to the point of being unrestrained in the private sector welfare (aka virtual State subsidies) that it is has granted to that supportive group. The same can be said, and has not escaped the attention of Guyanese, that the party’s campaign financiers (also possessing private sector membership) have received more than their share of State dole under various disguises, of which prime lands and contracts are just two.
Since there has been this generosity for the rich, then the same must take place for working class Guyanese to be given a timely financial cushion.
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