PNCR calls for subsidies for basic food items, more money for needy

Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 March 2022, 22:34 by Denis Chabrol

PNCR Leader Aubrey Norton

The People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) on Tuesday recommended that government pumps some of the GY$5 billion into subsidising some consumer items and dole out additional cash to low-income earners and public assistance recipients.

“We call for the $5 billion Guyana dollars that have been set aside for cost-of-living adjustments in budget 2022 to be immediately put to use in order to shield citizens from these increases in the price of flour and other basic food items.” PNCR Leader Aubrey Norton told a news conference. At the same time, he noted that the GY$5 billion was 0.9 percent of the GY$552 billion,

Mr. Norton noted that the government has this year already received GY$23 billion dollars from royalties alone, and upcoming oil lifts will bring Guyana some of the highest crude oil prices the country would have ever received.

Among the measures that Mr. Norton suggested are a market supplement to low-wage workers, expanded school feeding programme to cover two to three meals per day, subsidy of basic food items such as flour, cooking oil, rice and milk, and provide more cash to families in the public assistance programme.

The government has allocated GY$5 billion in the 2022 National Budget as a standby facility pending plans on how to ease the impact of rising cost of living.

The PNCR noted that the price of flour has increased by 15 percent, cooking gas has reached GY$5,700 a cylinder and fuel prices have increased by as much as 20 percent. “These are only a few examples of the desperate situation our less fortunate citizens find themselves in. Some would have you believe that citizens must bear these burdens without complaint, happy to pretend that Guyana is not also benefiting from high oil prices as a producer,” that party said.

The PNCR Leader assailed the government for failing to abide by Article 13 of  the Constitution of Guyana and consult the Opposition to craft policies to dealing with the present situation. Asked whether he intended to formally propose the PNCR’s ideas, Mr. Norton said publicly stating the recommendations was sufficient.

Had the government followed the PNCR’s advice to increase the 2022 salary of public servants by over 25%, raise the minimum wage and tax threshold, remove personal income tax for low-wage earners, providing a generous risk allowance to frontline workers, and guarantee all households a minimum livable income. Such measures would have helped considerably. “While we agree that these measures alone will not help in a situation of high inflation and that there is need for additional measures, they would have cushioned the ill effects of the rising cost of living and the decreasing real income of the people of Guyana,” he said.