Cabinet examining measures to alleviate rising cost of living – Governance Minister
The rising cost of living, which has touched all corners of the globe including Guyana, is a matter that is being monitored by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Government and in fact, engages Cabinet’s attention every week.
This is according to Governance and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Gail Teixeira in an exclusive interview with this publication. Teixeira assured that besides the measures introduced to help bring down costs at the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) and the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI), other measures are being examined.
“It’s always discussed. We’re always keeping an eye on that and the Government has brought out measures, in terms of GPL and GWI. And it is looking at other measures for how it can reduce some of the costs borne by the public,” Teixeira said.
“What we have to make sure, is what concessions are given. Say to the Private Sector or importers of fuel, that they are passing them on to the public. But we do know that all the inputs into food, even food grown here, would have an impact on the foods sold in the stores and shops.”
Teixeira pointed out one of the Government’s initiatives, which was to have farmers’ markets to allow farmers to market their produce directly. She noted that other measures are still being examined by the Government.
The Minister sought to remind that the rising cost of living is a global phenomenon, made worst by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine, she pointed out, is among other things, a major producer of wheat.
“As you know, globally, this is happening everywhere. Even after COVID. COVID had an impact on cost of living around the world and we’ve actually kept our measures down, although we did have inflation.”
“If we didn’t have removal of tax, the draconian taxes for example, and some of the initiatives to do with shipping and freight and fuel, the situation would be much worse than it is now. Of course, the invasion of Ukraine by Russia has exacerbated the issue.”
The prices for a wide range of commodities have significantly increased – such as fuel and flour with the National Milling Company of Guyana Inc (NAMILCO) recently announcing a hike of 15 per cent with immediate effect.
And though the Government this year further lowered the excise tax rate on gasoline and diesel from 20 per cent to 10 per cent – which should have resulted in major savings at the pump – global events like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have sent the prices up, with gas now retailing as high as $246 per litre of gasoline.
Back in 2021, the PPP Government had also announced a number of reductions to shipping-related charges, which amounted to $4.8 billion, in order to bring relief to citizens and businesses.
President Dr Irfaan Ali, during a press conference on March 6, emphasised that the Government is not turning a blind eye to the rise in cost of living. According to him, it is a matter that is being addressed on multiple fronts, which includes addressing input cost and issues at the consumer and market levels.
“One is that we set aside $5 billion in the budget for cost of living adjustment. We have to finalise the programme and the consultation has started on that. Secondly, we have to find a way in terms of economies of scale for example with the purchase of fertiliser, because one of the other major problems we have is the drought of the Demerara River. So, instead of one 30,000 tonne ship coming in, you can only have 7000 tonnes. So, we have an added problem in terms of transportation,” the Guyanese Head of State had said. (G3)