President awards $25,000 one-off payment to 60,000 Govt, public corporations’ workers
Public servants and other categories of workers in the Public Sector, including workers of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), will be benefiting from a one-off $25,000 cash grant.
This was announced by President Dr Irfaan Ali on Thursday, December 31, the last day of 2020.
According to the Head of State, over 60,000 workers and their families would benefit from this initiative, which would cost the Government over $2 billion.
“I am pleased to announce a one-off grant of $25,000 to workers of the entire Public Sector, which includes central government, statutory bodies, subvention agencies, public corporations, government pensioners and staff of the University of Guyana,” he revealed.
Teachers, medical professionals, and members of the joint services are also included among the beneficiaries.
The President added that the funds are being distributed to assist “these workers to cope with the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic”.
The process to initiate the distribution of the funds began right after it was announced. In fact, Senior Minister within the Office of the President, with responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh, in a statement on Thursday, said staff at the Finance Ministry were already instructed to immediately commence processing of the grant.
“Our intention is to ensure that Public Sector employees receive this grant immediately, so work is ongoing, as we speak, to ensure that processing is done as swiftly as possible,” the Senior Finance Minister assured.
Dr Singh noted that the one-off grant is just one of Government’s many other initiatives designed to bring relief to frontline workers and to households across Guyana. He added that it is also a mechanism to stimulate economic activity in the country, as it would allow for $2 billion to be placed in the hands of employees in the Public Sector, who would, in turn, consume or spend the disposable income in markets, shops or other businesses within the country.
The other initiatives implemented by the Ali-led administration to bring relieve to citizens include the distribution of an emergency $25,000 relief grant for every household, and, more recently, the two-weeks’ tax-free bonus that was announced earlier this month for members of the Disciplined Services as well as essential healthcare workers.
“Put together: the COVID Relief Programme, the bonus paid to the disciplined services and frontline health sector workers, and the one-off grant announced today… the sum total of those is more than 10 billion dollars put in the hands of the people of Guyana,” the Finance Minister asserted.
Meanwhile, during his announcement on Thursday, President Ali noted that this one-off cash grant would also be extended to current workers of GuySuCo.
He said that sugarcane workers in particular suffered under the previous administration with the closure of four sugar estates in the last five years.
“Those sugar workers who were unconscionably deprived of their livelihood by the APNU/AFC Government will, in the New Year, be provided with transitional support as we continue to restructure the industry in keeping with the PPP/C’s promise,” the Head of State posited.
Back in 2016, the former APNU/AFC Government closed the Wales Estate, and the following year, shut down the Enmore, Rose Hall and Skeldon estates, putting over 7,000 sugar workers on the breadline. The downsizing of the sugar industry resulted in only the Uitvlugt, Blairmont and Albion estates currently operating.
However, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic had promised on the campaign trail to reopen the closed estates, re-employ the sacked workers, and revive the sugar industry once it gets into office.
After taking office in August 2020 following a five-month electoral deadlock, the PPP/C announced in the 2020 Emergency Budget, which was presented in September, that some $5 billion would be injected into the sugar industry for the phased reopening of the closed estates. An initial $3 billion was earmarked for critical works for the remainder of 2020, while the Government simultaneously carried out an assessment on the state of the assets and the level of reinvestments needed at the Enmore, Rose Hall and Skeldon estates for their reopening.