Vice-President of Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo, told a diaspora meet and greet audience in Queens, New York, that his administration has rolled out several initiatives to combat the rising inflation, in response to nagging concerns that enough is not being done to bring relief to poor citizens.
The politician said that his government must deal with imported inflation that is largely driven by the supply chain disruptions around the world, brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, and the war in the Ukraine.
“We as a small country also imported the inflation,”said Jagdeo. As such, his government has sought to address the crisis through several initiatives, he told the crowd at the Royal Empress Hall in South Ozone Park, Queens, on July 31.
One of the measures is the creation of part-time jobs for unemployed citizens, and others who needed added work to subsidize their income. He said 10,000 jobs were created across four regions, and another 5000 are expected to be created very soon.
There is a payment of GUY$40,000 for 10 days of employment in schools, daycare centers, hospitals, and National Democratic Council offices. These temporary positions give citizens an opportunity to enter the workforce, while encouraging good work ethic.
The farming sector, one of the hardest disrupted due to the pandemic that caused inflation, was given a hand-up with the removal of the 50 percent taxed fuel, and the value added tax (VAT) on oil. Additionally, the government has set aside GUY$1 billion for fertilizers to assist farmers in Guyana’s main regions.
The plant food will be distribution via a farmer’s committee that was setup through the government to hand out a limited quantity to help small business owners to cut cost of importation of the brand, for them to raise their profit margin while growing rice, and cash crops he said.
The politician shared that Guyana is one of the few countries in the region that has reduced tax on business owners including fisher folk — another group deeply affected by rising cost.
Jagdeo, whose government recently signed a $2 billion memorandum of understanding with the Export-Import Bank of the United States during a recent visit to Washington, will also deliver cash grants to help business owners to cushion transportation costs to move goods into the hinterland and riverain areas.
These are some of the more than 15 measures put in place to buffer the cost of living. “We have a very aggressive program to assist families,” said the former president, adding that his government has restored the kids grant that was discontinued by the previous administration. The yearly grant valued at GUY$30,000 will be distributed to students in public and private schools.
Additionally, pensioners who benefited from a 40 percent increase since PPP/C government returned to office two years ago, will see an additional increase over the next five years. In the meantime the elderly will receive endowment to help them combat the inflation phenomenon.
Jagdeo reiterated, that there is a long list of measures the PPP/C government has sought to push to cushion the cost-of-living impact. Helping farmers, infrastructure for a supply response, all while blaming the previous government for shutting down sugar factories that his administration, reopened to aid sugar workers.
However, over the last few months, the politician blamed the heavy rainfall for the loss of sugarcane crops, and shortage of the sweetener. For an alternative, the government is geared towards growing twenty variety of wheat to replace the shortage brought on by the ongoing war in the Ukraine, the world’s largest wheat-growing country.
He said he recognize the cost-of-living impact and aims to help families directly, noting that his government also understands there is a need to help all citizens, especially those in the low-income bracket, and as such pledged that every person who is building a house below the cost of GUY$6M will receive steel and cement at no cost to them.
During his comprehensive presentation, that covered the Oil and Gas sector, infrastructural growth in the hotel industry, building of specialized hospitals, housing development, and climate change indicatives, Vice-President Jagdeo applauded the strong relationship forged between Guyana and the United States and denounced rumblings that his government was summoned to Washington for anything other than to move Guyana forward.
Newly appointed Consul General of Guyana to New York, Michael Brotherson, Fazal “Joe” Yussuff, advisor of Investment & Diaspora Affairs, Guyana Consulate, and Ossie Rogers, were a part of the VP’s delegation.