January 14, 2022
For immediate release to all media houses.
Alliance For Change – Budget 2023 must haves.
As another national budget prepares to be read, the Alliance For Change recognizes that without the Coalition’s strategic planning and management of the economy while in Government we would not have seen the swift emergence of our oil and gas industry and first oil by December 2019. Today we give credit where it is due and note that this nation would not be reaping the economic benefits we are today for this fact. We are therefore proud of this achievement.
For the first time in our history earnings and deposits into our National Resource Fund is providing an opportunity to transform Guyana and ensure that all her citizens can benefit directly. With this in mind and as a first principle, the Alliance For Change (AFC) is prepared to support Budget 2023 only on the condition that it makes provisions that would benefit all Guyanese and not just a select few. It is time to put the people First.
Budget 2023, which will be read on January 16th, must be seen as people-centred. This is because it will be the largest ever, given the increased earnings from the oil and gas sector. Therefore, the benefits from the inheritance must be equally shared by all sectors of the citizenry.
Already, some $209 billion deposited into the Natural Resource Fund during 2022 would be available for spending this year. Therefore, the AFC expects the following at a minimum to be included:
- Free Education at the University of Guyana.
- Full subsidy for all types of vehicles on all bridge/pontoon crossings, including Berbice Bridge, Demerara Harbour Bridge, Wismar Bridge, Kurukupari, Madhia crossing, Bartica crossing and the introduction of free speedboat services to all school children and medical personnel from the Vreed-en-hoop to Georgetown, Grove, EBD to Georgetown and Rosignol – New Amsterdam. These subsidies will reduce consumer costs, resulting in more families’ disposable income. It will also reduce traffic build-up due to eliminating waiting time to pay tolls, particularly on the Demerara Harbour Bridge. It is anticipated that these proposed subsidies will cost 1.4% of the 2022 NRF funds but will benefit ordinary working-class citizens.
- An increase in the minimum wage to $150,000 with corresponding adjustments to personal income tax would see persons earning minimum wage not paying income tax and a staggered schedule that would reduce current income tax payable.
- An increase in Old Age Pension to $50,000
- An increase in Disability benefits to $40,000
- A monthly electricity subsidy for all categories of consumers; $5000 for domestic consumers, $10,000 for commercial and $15,000 for industrial.
- Reduce VAT to 12%.
- Provide duty-free concession and VAT exemption on equipment and machinery for all businesses involved in Agriculture. The private business sector proposed this.
- New shelters across all Administrative Regions for women seeking respite and to escape abusive relationships. These shelters would support the victims of domestic violence to restore their lives.
These are but a few key provisions we expect to see in Budget 2023. It is time that all the people of Guyana enjoy the benefits and not the unequal allocations we have seen which makes the rich in our society richer. The cries of our ordinary citizens of the high cost of living confirms that they are not seeing the improvements directly in their pockets. Budget 2023 has the power to change that.