Norton calls for programmes already implemented by gov’t 
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Leader of the Opposition Aubrey Norton
Leader of the Opposition Aubrey Norton

OPPOSITION Leader Aubrey Norton on Tuesday made a passionate call for the government to give loans and grants for small businesses, invest in agriculture, and increase pension and welfare assistance, all of which are measures that have already been implemented.

Speaking at his party’s weekly press briefing, which he chose to conduct virtually on Tuesday, the Opposition Leader read diligently from a prepared statement, and when questioned, trotted out a series of measures already implemented by the government to address the increase in the cost of living not limited to Guyana, and due to a number of global factors, including COVID-19.

Norton also said that he has no objection to the grants being given to citizens by the government to cushion the impact of the increase in cost of living. “We are not against handouts; we see such cash grants as resources that our people need,” he said.

In his opening statement, Norton spoke on several initiatives, among them a call for free university education, which has already been promised by the government, and the need for school feeding programmes, another initiative that has been implemented by the Ministry of Education.

Since 2020, the government has been implementing a number of measures to curb and cushion the shocks or the unavoidable price increases.
Upon assuming office in August 2020, the government soon budgeted for the distribution of $25,000 to each household across the country. The government also safeguarded utilities against increases by removing the Value Added Tax (VAT) from water and electricity.

Additionally, President, Dr. Irfaan Ali had announced a series of ground-breaking measures, ranging from cash grants to households in hinterland and riverine communities to the provision of free fertilisers for farmers, which are all aimed at improving the lives of citizens.

Most notable in the 2022 budget, the government allocated some $5 billion for programmes to cushion the effects of the rising cost of living.
Through this, the government has provided an additional $25,000 cash grant to every household in the riverine and hinterland communities of the country, which resulted in $800 million being pumped into the economy to cushion the impacts of the rising cost of living for that demographic.

Towards the development of small businesses in the 2022 budget, $300 million was injected into the Small Business Development Fund.
The government also announced a programme under which it will be purchasing and distributing, free of cost, $1 billion in fertilisers to farmers all across Guyana as a means of absorbing the rising global costs for the commodity, and to prevent the costs being passed on to consumers at the market.

The government is injecting money back into the pockets of ordinary citizens via old-age pension and public assistance, which were both increased, putting $2.3 billion and $432 million, respectively, into the pockets of Guyanese.

In other measures targeting construction and homeownership, interest rate for houses and buildings up to $9M was reduced to 3.8 per cent while for homes, home builders constructing homes costing $6M or less, the builders will be provided with the steel needed for construction and one sling of cement.

Homes that cost $6M to $25M, Government will provide two slings of cement. These interventions are geared at not only cushioning the current cost of living that is beyond the Government’s control but to empower ordinary Guyanese to improve their livelihoods and standard of living, several senior Government officials have explained during their community outreaches.

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