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Dec 31, 2022 News
Kaieteur News – The A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC), has reiterated calls for the Government to make one-off payments of some $300,000 to every home in Guyana, especially when one considers the windfall revenue the country has received due to increased oil prices.
The Party made this statement yesterday via social media as several sections of the society continue to complain about the meagre to zero effect oil revenue and its windfall sums continue to have on ordinary Guyanese.
The Coalition said that Guyanese can enjoy one of the world’s highest living standards, but the Government has refused to incorporate strategic people-centred methods that touch the lives of citizens who need it the most. The Party explained that throughout 2022, as poverty and inequality got worse, as most Guyanese faced increasing hardships coming out of the pandemic and as families struggled to put food on the table, it called for a range of ‘urgent people-centered responses’ to be implemented by the Government.
“As early as January 2022, we called for: (i) a comprehensive anti-poverty plan, (ii) a 25% plus salary increase for public servants, healthcare workers, Teachers and other state employees, (iii) $10,000 plus increase in old age pensions, (iv) the removal of income tax for low-income earners, (v) multi-billion dollar investments to revitalize depressed communities, and (vi) a massive grants scheme to spur the start-up and growth of micro to medium-scale businesses.”
The Party said that as the cost of living continued to spike during the year – and with the government still demonstrating indifference and incompetence, “we further called for a cap on fuel prices and for a waiver of water and electricity payments for low-income households. These measures would have brought direct relief to our people and would have put income in their pockets. All of these demands were rejected,” the Party said.
“Moreover, we noted the persistent inflow of unexpected high oil revenues occasioned by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. We pointed out that this oil windfall equated to $300,000 per household – and proposed that this money be equitably and transparently distributed in a structured and focused way to the people of our country.
Again, the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) rejected this people-centered proposal.”
The Opposition Coalition said that it believes that Guyana can have one of the world’s highest standards of living. “We believe that Guyana can be one of the world’s happiest societies. We believe that Guyana can achieve the goal of zero poverty and zero misery.”
The Opposition Party had reacted to yesterday’s Stabroek News Editorial when it reiterated what it said are the people-centred measures to directly impact the ordinary citizen and to provide physical transfer of the windfall oil cash. The Editorial had suggested that based on information out of a World Bank report as recent as October, some 48 percent of the population is living below US$5 or GUY$1000 per day. It said that poverty rates are highest in the sparsely populated interior areas in communities with limited access to economic opportunities, healthcare and public services.
The piece went on to say therefore, that should one read ‘the cheery press releases’ coming out of the Government Information Agencies of “our phenomenal growth rate and all these massive infrastructural projects that are either underway or about to be embarked on, no one would believe that 48 percent of our population was living in extreme poverty.” The Editorial continued that “perhaps for the Government and those who serve it, statistics are just abstractions which do not translate into real people or real suffering. They consider their responsibility to communities discharged when they sprint into a village and agree to rehabilitate a community ground or fix a local road.”
In an updated fact sheet, the World Bank had said that ‘Poverty rates are highest in the sparsely populated interior or hinterland where communities have limited access economic opportunities, health care, and public services. The country experiences high emigration and brain drain, with 39% of all Guyanese currently residing abroad and roughly half of all Guyanese with a tertiary education having emigrated to the United States.” It pointed to Guyana having one of the highest poverty rates in the Latin America and Caribbean region despite it having one of the fastest growing economies in the region.
Stakeholders have urged Government to increase the minimum income wage as one method to ensure that all citizens are able to shift above the poverty line. Workers Unions have called for the adherence to collective bargain for the negotiation of mutually agreed upon wage increases that are compatible with the increased cost of living. The Government recently announced an eight percent increase in salaries for Government workers retroactive to January 2022.
Already complaints are that the increase is insufficient to address the current domestic hardships and continued effects of the external economy. Also, the eight percent increase is not extended to all categories of state employees.
Recently, Unions reignited concern regarding the surging number of citizens exiting state employment and seeking work abroad.
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