Budget 2023 ‘evidently crafted to bring betterment for Guyanese’ – GAWU
See below full statement issued by GAWU on Budget 2023:
The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) believes that the 2023 National Budget, presented under the theme “Improving Lives Today, Building Prosperity for Tomorrow”, will further extend and enhance the ongoing efforts of the Government to advance the welfare of all Guyanese. We recognized that the policies and programmes being elucidated offers several benefits and improvements to our citizens. And it is clear to us that the lives of our people were at the center of the policy making process. In that regard, our Union joins several organisations and individuals in welcoming Budget 2023 which has much in store for our nation. We also congratulate the Government and its pro-development vision which articulates an exciting and prosperous future for all.
Pro-people’s policies will enhance national well-being
The nation’s largest ever budget has provided support to every area of national life. It indicates that considerable thought and effort was paid to ensure that every Guyanese man, woman and child benefits and enjoys the economic development taking place. We have taken note of the emphasis to ensure equitable and sustainable development, greater access to resources to enhance our well-being, and improved attention to promoting safety and security. Additionally, the building of a strong, robust, and diversified foundation clearly demonstrates that the future will be exciting.
In addressing workers and our ordinary people, we have taken note of several measures advanced by Budget 2023 to improve disposable income, bringing the aspirations of our people within reach, and to ensure that our people are safeguarded. Against that background, our Union welcomes the improvement in the income tax threshold. While we have heard some views, in the context of the challenging macro environment it is a laudable advancement. The GAWU, however, does not see the tax threshold in isolation but takes into account several other initiatives advanced and sustained by Budget 2023. The extension of the freight charges computation for imported commodities and the undertaking that the gains from this relief are passed on to our ordinary people is significant. Similarly, we note the extension of the excise tax waivers on fuel mitigating the full effect of rising fuel prices. Those two measures together with the income tax adjustment equate to several billion dollars. Moreover, continued support to the electricity and water sectors to maintain tariffs despite rising operating costs are serious measures aimed at curtailing the cost-of-living.
Additionally considering improvements to the school child grant, old age and public assistance, reduction in duties on vehicles, among other things it is recognized that our people have secure substantial gains. Apart from those measures, the investments in health, education, housing, water, and social services enhances our collective well-being. Similarly, the substantial provisions for infrastructure we hold will go a far way in reducing infrastructural deficits. Considered in aggregate Budget 2023 offers to our people many benefits and substantial gains. It provides unlocked resources that will make our lives better and build a stronger Guyana.
Support for sugar reverses assaults of the past
Our Union has also recognised the Budget’s focus to return the sugar industry to a viable and sustainable position. Against that background, the Budget has appropriated the sum of four billion dollars ($4B) towards the ongoing efforts to modernize and enhance the industry’s capital stock. It is apposite to recognize that the support comes after there were clear efforts under the former Government to paralyze the industry to the point of no return which, we believe, was in execution of its narrow, biased political agenda. This year, we note investments will be focused on improving the industry’s packaging capacity and furthering mechanization together will play a meaningful role in enhancing efficiency, augment revenue and diversifying the product base. These we hold are essential elements to safeguard the industry and undoubtedly the thousands of Guyanese who depends on its operations.
Additionally, the GAWU has noted His Excellency President Dr. Mohammed Irfaan Ali disclosure that experts from India and Guatemala are being solicited to enhance the capabilities of GuySuCo. Our Union in the past has advanced the need for the industry’s technical and managerial capacity to be enhanced. We, at this time, look forward to learning more about these developments. The GAWU recognised too known enemies of the industry have called for its further minimization. Such contentions we hold are clearly misguided and intended to create mischief. The absence of any recognition of the wider socio-economic contribution of the industry has largely been ignored. Similarly, the efforts to improve productivity, reduce costs and enhance revenues have possibly been conveniently and deliberately ignored.
In the GAWU’s view, Budget 2023 is evidently one crafted and geared to bringing about betterment for the Guyanese people and tangibly realizing the Government’s vision of a One Guyana by improving lives today and building prosperity for tomorrow. It also keeps an eye on the future as it proposes investments that will augment our infrastructure, expand our economic base, and build a more resilient and cohesive society. Taken in totality, we laud Budget 2023 and believe the programmes will enhance the well-being of all Guyanese.