Funds still available to cushion global price hikes – Finance Minister

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The government has not yet exhausted the $5 billion it allocated in this year’s budget to relieve the increasing cost of living and as such further relief measures are being explored, Senior Minister within the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance Dr. Ashni Singh has said.

Dr. Singh, speaking Friday on the sidelines of an event, said that the government is “extremely mindful” of the global economic crises that have contributed to the still rising cost of goods in Guyana.

“We will do all that we can to alleviate the situation,” he said, reminding the public that several relief measures for various groups of people have been introduced already.

The $5 billion sum was allocated to cushion the effects of global price increases. It joins the suite of interventions- including the removal of taxes, the introduction of new part-time jobs and the provision of cash grants- to ease ongoing price woes.

Senior Minister within the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance Dr. Ashni Singh

So far, the $1 billion fertiliser support for farmers and the $800 million in cash grants for hinterland and riverain communities were among the initiatives funded by this sum.

Dr. Singh said that the sum is not yet exhausted, and that the government is eyeing further relief measures for worse-affected groups of people.

“We continue to monitor the situation to see where the greatest pressure is and what the appropriate policy response should be,” he related.

Meanwhile, Dr. Singh rejected reports that the local cost of living is expected to double by year-end.

The Bank of Guyana, in its first quarter report, noted that the inflation rate for the country would increase from some 1.7 per cent to some 4.1 per cent. Though that inflation rate is expected to more than double, the Finance Minister said this does not translate to a doubling of the cost of living.

The inflation rate represents how much prices will increase by. Prices are expected to increase by some 2.4 per cent.

And Dr. Singh said, “For the cost of living to double, prices have to increase by 100 per cent.”

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