Support to sugar industry reiterates Government’s seriousness

Dear Editor,
The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) believes that the 2023 National Budget, presented under the theme “Improving Lives Today, Building Prosperity for Tomorrow”, will further extend and enhance the ongoing efforts of the Government to advance the welfare of all Guyanese.
We recognise that the policies and programmes being elucidated offer several benefits and improvements to our citizens, and it is clear to us that the lives of our people are at the centre of the policy-making process. In this regard, our Union joins several organisations and individuals in welcoming Budget 2023, which has much in store for our nation.
We also congratulate the Government and its pro-development vision, which articulates an exciting and prosperous future for all.
Pro-people’s policies will enhance national well-being.
The nation’s largest ever budget has provided support to every area of national life. It indicates that considerable thought and effort were paid to ensure that every Guyanese man, woman and child benefits and enjoys the economic development taking place. We have taken note of the emphasis to ensure equitable and sustainable development; greater access to resources, to enhance our well-being; and improved attention to promoting safety and security. Additionally, the building of a strong, robust and diversified foundation clearly demonstrates that the future will be exciting.
In addressing workers and our ordinary people, we have taken note of several measures advanced by Budget 2023 to improve disposable income, bringing the aspirations of our people within reach, and ensuring that our people are safeguarded. Against that background, our Union welcomes the improvement in the income tax threshold.
While we have heard some views, in the context of the challenging macro environment, it is a laudable advancement. The GAWU, however, does not see the tax threshold in isolation, but takes into account several other initiatives advanced and sustained by Budget 2023. The extension of the freight charges’ computation for imported commodities and the undertaking that the gains from this relief would be passed on to our ordinary people are significant.
Similarly, we note the extension of the excise tax waivers on fuel, mitigating the full effect of rising fuel prices. Those two measures, together with the income tax adjustment, equate to several billion dollars. Moreover, continued support to the electricity and water sectors, to maintain tariffs despite rising operating costs, is a serious measure aimed at curtailing the cost-of-living. Additionally, considering improvements to the school child grant, old-age pension and public assistance, reduction in duties on vehicles, among other things, it is recognised that our people have secured substantial gains. Apart from those measures, the investments in health, education, housing, water, and social services enhance our collective well-being. Similarly, the substantial provisions for infrastructure we hold will go a far way in reducing infrastructural deficits.
Considered in aggregate, Budget 2023 offers to our people many benefits and substantial gains. It provides unlocked resources that would make our lives better, and build a stronger Guyana.

Support for sugar reverses assaults of the past
Our Union has also recognised the Budget’s focus to return the sugar industry to a viable and sustainable position. Against that background, the Budget has appropriated the sum of four billion dollars ($4B) towards the ongoing efforts to modernise and enhance the industry’s capital stock.
It is apposite to recognise that the support comes after there were clear efforts under the former Government to paralyse the industry to the point of no return, which we believe was in execution of its narrow, biased political agenda. This year, we note, investments will be focused on improving the industry’s packaging capacity and furthering mechanisation. Together, they will play a meaningful role in enhancing efficiency, augmenting revenue, and diversifying the product base. These we hold are essential elements to safeguard the industry and, undoubtedly, the thousands of Guyanese who depend on its operation.
Additionally, the GAWU has noted His Excellency President Dr. Mohammed Irfaan Ali’s disclosure that experts from India and Guatemala are being solicited to enhance the capabilities of GuySuCo. Our Union had, in the past, advanced the need for the industry’s technical and managerial capacity to be enhanced. At this time, we look forward to learning more about these developments. The GAWU recognises, too, that known enemies of the industry have called for its further minimisation. Such contentions, we hold, are clearly misguided and intended to create mischief. The absence of any recognition of the wider socio-economic contribution of the industry has largely been ignored. Similarly, the efforts to improve productivity, reduce costs, and enhance revenues have possibly been conveniently and deliberately ignored.
In the GAWU’s view, Budget 2023 is evidently one crafted and geared at bringing about betterment for the Guyanese people, and tangibly realising the Government’s vision of a “One Guyana” by improving lives today and building prosperity for tomorrow. It also keeps an eye on the future, as it proposes investments that would augment our infrastructure, expand our economic base, and build a more resilient and cohesive society. Taken in totality, we laud Budget 2023, and believe the programmes would enhance the well-being of all Guyanese.

Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU)