Last Updated on Monday, 7 August 2023, 15:37 by Denis Chabrol
The People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) has put a ‘price tag’ on several of its major promises that it appeared set to take into its campaign for the 2025 general and regional elections.
If elected in 2025 to run Guyana’s affairs, PNCR sp0kesman on Economics Elson Low said a number of its previously stated social welfare programmes would be introduced gradually.
“Our intention is to phase in these programmes and so we have an idea of the cost for various programmes,” he told a weekly news conference.
He estimated that the increase in public sector salaries would be an estimated GY$60 billion; GY$10 billion for free education at the University of Guyana over the course of the next few years, and GY$10 billion “at the beginning” for electricity and water relief. Mr Low explained that the utility bill relief package is expected to be much lower as the beneficiaries would be small-scale consumers of those utilities.
Mr Low declined to immediately provide any projected expenditure for the PNCR-APNU- touted assistance programme. “The cost will vary a bit depending on how we phase that in so I don’t want to give a direct number on that quite yet,” he said.
PNCR and Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton added that measures would be put in place to stamp out corruption and make those monies available “for the development of our people” and reduce waste in the infrastructural development programme.
The PNCR, which is the major partner in the opposition parliamentary opposition coalition of A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC), has also reiterated that it would provide GY$1 million per household annually from oil revenues in a “structured, open and transparently and based on objective criteria.”
As an interim measure to cushion the impact of rising cost of living, that party is advocated a 25 percent increase in salaries, but promised that there would be collective bargaining with trade unions. “We will respect the public sector unions as the legitimate representatives of public servants. This is an error that must be rectified and we are committed to doing so,” the PNCR said. Both the incumbent People’s Progressive Party and APNU+AFC have been cited by the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) for imposing wage and salary increases.
The PNCR also promises that under a future Coalition government, public servants would be guaranteed a livable income through several measures such as increasing the minimum wage, raising the tax threshold, abolishing income tax for workers at the bottom of the scale, topping-up salaries as required through allowances; and providing training for job advancement.
Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo recently acknowledged that the GY$5 billion that had been set aside for cost of living relief in the 2023 budget remained so far unspent.