–slew of other measures under Human Services Ministry unveiled
AN additional $2.3 billion in disposable income will be placed in the hands of over 65,000 senior citizens when the old-age pension is increased from $25,000 to $28,000, Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh announced on Wednesday.
Dr. Singh was, at the time, speaking about the measures that have been included in the 2022 budget under the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security (MoHSSS).
It was also announced to the National Assembly that another 18,000 persons are scheduled to benefit from $432 million in disposable income with the increase of public assistance from $12,000 to $14,000.
Further, 300 Guyanese currently in need of life-saving dialysis are set to benefit from $180 million in assistance with the implementation of the newly created ‘Dialysis Support Programme’, under which every dialysis patient will receive up to $600,000 per annum for dialysis treatment.
Currently in Guyana, dialysis costs approximately $12,000 per session with most patients needing at least two sessions per week.
These new measures are expected to assist some of society’s most vulnerable groups and are among a slew of measures catered for under the MoHSSS.
During his 2022 budget presentation, Dr. Singh stressed the importance of Guyana’s most vulnerable being catered for, particularly the senior citizens.
“Our senior citizens remain a valuable institutional resource to our society and must be afforded the opportunity for a good quality of life – safe, secure, good quality health care and opportunities for social engagements. We continue to take active steps to support our senior citizens,” he said as he announced the pension increase.
A number of measures are also included to cater to the needs of persons with disabilities (PWDs) and other special needs citizens. These include the creation of a national school for children with special needs through collaboration between the Ministry of Health and the Ptolemy Reid Rehabilitation Centre.
Works are also slated to continue on the Centre for Disability, while the construction of a new care centre at the Mahaica Hospital for those children living with disabilities is also expected to commence.
Two wheelchair buses are to be purchased to aid in the transport of residents from the Mahaica Hospital and Training Complex.
“Government is concerned about the well-being of persons living with disabilities and is making a conscious effort to bring social services to all eligible persons,” Dr. Singh said.
Further, the budget also contains a number of measures that cater to areas such as the empowerment of women and girls and the improvement of support for domestic violence victims.
Regarding improvements to tackle domestic violence, $19.7 million has been allocated towards the construction of domestic violence shelters at Whim and Onderneeming, while another $114.9 million is going towards the expansion of legal aid services to domestic violence victims.
“Abuse of any form is unacceptable within our society and is a social issue that cannot be ignored. Our government continues to pursue initiatives to prevent domestic violence,” Dr. Singh noted.
For women development, the Women’s Innovation and Investment Network (WIIN) Programme will be expanded, targeting more women, and offering additional and advanced courses in culinary arts and technical skills for solar farms, among others.
“Empowerment of women is an imperative to achieving sustainable development. The development of women cannot be viewed in isolation, but as part of the substantial investments being undertaken across both social and economic sectors. In addition to the numerous expenditure designed to benefit women, this government is committed to gender equality not only superficially but meaningfully,” he added.
There are also measures that will help to cushion the rising cost of living.
“Our Government regards the issue of cost of living as a matter of pressing concern. Given the complexity of the factors driving price increases and the limited policy instruments available to mitigate these increases, we intend to engage in further consultations with the communities. We have allocated a sum of $5 billion to meet the cost of the interventions to be implemented following these consultations,” Dr. Singh said.