IN addition to the existing cash grants, President Dr. Irfaan Ali has announced three additional measures which will provide cash incentives totalling $2.6 billion, specifically targeting vulnerable groups such as the elderly, persons with disabilities, and those who rely on public assistance.
In a special address to the nation on Monday night, Dr. Ali said that a one-off grant of $25,000 will be given to all old-age pensioners. “This grant will benefit almost 65,000 persons, and place an additional $1.6 billion of disposable income in the hands of our elderly,” President Ali said.
He added that the grant is equivalent to an additional month of pension.
A similar one-off grant of $25,000 will also be distributed to all recipients of public assistance, and persons living with disabilities. “This grant will benefit about 25,000 persons, and place more than $600 million of additional disposable income in their pockets,” the Head of State noted.
Additionally, he said that an electricity credit will be paid to the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) on behalf of all households consuming not more than 75 kilowatt hours of electricity per month. The credit to each household will be equivalent to one month of their electricity bill, and will inject more than $200 million of disposable income into more than 40,000 households.
“Together, these three new measures will provide an additional income support of $2.6 billion to our most vulnerable households,” Dr. Ali indicated.
THREE MAJOR CASH GRANTS
He reminded his audience that these new measures come even as the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) continues the distribution of three major cash grants, namely: The $25,000 COVID-19 cash grant, the $19,000 education cash grant, and another $7.8 billion in flood relief cash grants.
President Ali said that currently, the distribution of the COVID-19 cash grant is in its second phase, and that once that is completed, the programme will have placed more than $8 billion in the hands of families all across the country.
“As you know, since my government assumed office last August, we have spared no effort to ensure the reversal of the severe and punitive conditions created by five years of misrule and mismanagement by the APNU+AFC dictatorship,” Dr. Ali said.
He reminded that through the 2020 and 2021 budgets, the government removed Value-Added Tax (VAT) on water and electricity, as well as on basic food items, basic household necessities, and on medical and educational supplies.
Further, President Ali reminded of the administration’s efforts to ensure a reduction in water tariffs by five per cent, as well as the 50 per cent reduction in licence fees, which had been increased since 2014.
The Head of State also pointed to the government’s drive to make home-ownership and home construction more affordable by removing the VAT on basic construction materials, as well as increasing the ceilings on low-income mortgages from $8 million to $12 million, “and on loans granted by the New Building Society from $12 million to $15 million”.
Dr. Ali said, too, that the government also doubled the ceiling on loans eligible for mortgage interest relief from $15 to $30 million. “We also reduced the cost of connectivity, by taking off the VAT on data for residential and individual use, and on cellular phones,” President Ali noted.
He said, too, that in order to reduce the cost of doing business and to create jobs for all Guyanese, the government ensured the removal of VAT on heavy machinery and equipment. It also removed corporate income taxes on companies investing in the education and health sectors, and reversed the hike in land rental charges that took effect in 2015. “The latter measure alone put $1.4 billion back into the hands of farmers,” Dr. Ali said.
He also referenced the $7.8 billion in flood relief assistance, which will begin this week, as well as the introduction of a cap on the freight charges used to calculate taxes on imports. “This measure will allow for a saving of $4.8 billion by consumers and businesses,” Dr. Ali posited.
“Other measures that my government has implemented since we assumed office include an increase in Old Age Pensions from $20,500 monthly to $25,000 monthly and in public assistance from $9,000 to $12,000 monthly. These two measures alone have injected an additional $4.5 billion in income support to these vulnerable groups,” President Ali added.
The President reiterated his government’s commitment to supporting all Guyanese “as we navigate the current challenges of our time; as we rebuild our country from the difficulties of the last five years, and as we work towards realising the prosperity that inevitably lies ahead for our country and all our citizens.”
The Head of State expressed confidence that the new measures will go a long way in bringing additional relief to the people of Guyana. “This is a government that cares; this is your government, regardless of which community [or] which region you are from,” he said.
On top of all the relief measures, Dr. Ali also pledged additional support within the coming months. “We will continue to work on finding ways in which we will continue to make your lives easier; ways in which we will continue to make you more prosperous, and ways in which we will deliver to you a life that is fulfilling and satisfying,” the President concluded.