GUYANA: Guyanese women nervy over high cost of living – IRI Poll

Apr 22, 2022 – Kaieteur News   

Inflation – Rising Prices

Stemming from the global pandemic and more recently, the Russia/Ukraine war, the cost of living has had a huge impact on local citizens, so much so that union leaders and other concerned society members have been urging the administration to do more in cushioning the effects of this fall out.

Supporting the view that citizens have been hard hit by these constraints is the recently concluded International Republican Institute (IRI) survey which reported that women and rural communities are amongst those most concerned about the effects of the ongoing issue. The cost of living and the country’s economic situation, the report said, was the biggest concern when citizens were asked about the important problems facing the country.

The report said that of the 1500 survey participants, 26 percent of them generally saw the cost of living as a serious problem.          

Editor’s note: The Guyana dollar is approximately 200 to 1 US dollar.

A breakdown of that figure showed that 30 percent of those concerned about prices and living cost were women, while 23 percent of men expressed the same sentiments. Rural communities were also concerned about the high prices and living cost. Rural communities represented 29 percent of those concerned while urban areas represented 23 percent of that concern.

Middle aged persons between 36 and 55, also expressed the most concern about high prices. They represented 31 percent of the persons questioned, while citizens 56 years and older were the next group with cost of living as their main issue. They represented 30 percent of the survey number, while citizens from 18 years old to 35 represented 21 percent of those viewing high prices and cost of living Guyana’s biggest issue. The IPI report was conducted in January under the ‘Strengthening Democracy through Polling Data and Peacebuilding’ programme.

Civil Society members and in many cases, trade unions have called for increased support of citizens who have complained about rising costs in living. The General Workers’ Union headed by Norris Witter for instance, has for the last month protested every Friday at Parliament Building with union members demanding promised wage increase from G$44,200 (app U$ 221/month. This increase, the union insists, would assist with the high cost of living. The body has even called for further increases to public assistance sums to citizens, old age pension to aid the elderly as well as the removal on income tax to ease the strain on the vulnerable population.

The Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU), Guyana Trade Union Congress (GTUC), the Guyana Sugar Workers Union (GAWU) and Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) are among other unions that have voiced concern about increased cost of living and in particular, increasing the minimum wage to the standard G$60,000 (app U$ 300/month). This increase is expected to benefit, in particular, citizens employed within the private sector.

President Irfaan Ali has so far told Guyanese that the government is aiding in addressing cost of living. The President had stated last month that G$5 billion had been set aside in the budget for cost of living adjustments. He had said that moves were being made to finalise the programme and that consultation had started in this regard.

The government insists that since taking office, several measures were put in place for more disposable income to citizens. They had returned to office during the global pandemic. They have highlighted the one –off G$25,000 covid-19 cash grant, the removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) on water and electricity and the reinstated ‘Because we Care’ G$30,000 school uniform cash grant, among some of the measures forwarded. The G$3,000 dollar increase of old age pension from G$25,000 to G$28,000 and the G$2,000 increase in public assistance of G$12,000 to G$14,000 were also highlighted.

The government announced too that despite increased fuel prices, there will be no rise in electricity cost and water rates. To help with food prices, the government has encouraged farmers’ markets in some regions.

Opposition Leader, Aubrey Norton is adamant however that the government is moving too slow with easing citizens’ cost of living problems. After government announced the $5B sum, he urged the administration to move immediately in putting the money to use. He said that citizens’ were having difficulty accessing basic food and other items as prices skyrocketed mostly due to external forces.

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Comments

  • Dennis Albert  On 04/24/2022 at 6:14 pm

    The PNC offered subsidies and a blueprint to develop the economy from 2020 to 2029. Where are the Guardians of Democracy now?

    What do we as Guyanese get? A cronyist regime where a few from the private sector are getting massive contracts and deals, dining at the finest hotels, while to quote from Glenn Lall, the average Guyanese get to “suck salt”.

    Glenn Lall also discovered that Guyanese are unable to afford to buy a pound of rice or salt, instead asking for $20 salt or $40 quarter point rice at the shop, in a country where rice is produced. In a country where the few private sector elements become insanely rich and wealthier.

    I guess gold, drugs and alcohol smuggling pays off for the private sector elite.

    You see those massive shore bases and high rises? They are not for us. I would argue that the working class Diaspora Guyanese cannot afford to live in the new oil economy with the monies they earn abroad.

    A true depiction of an Equatorial Guinea.

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