Full statement from the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG)
The Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) recognizes and welcomes the announcement by His Excellency President Dr Mohammed Irfaan Ali in advancing assistance to vulnerable Guyanese.
The decision to provide old-aged pensioners, public assistance and disability recipients a grant of $25,000 as well as covering the cost of electricity for citizens consuming 75 kilowatts of electricity will undoubtedly go a far way in alleviating some of the challenges poorer Guyanese confront at this time. We learnt from the President that the announced initiatives will put some $2.6B in the pockets of ordinary Guyanese.
The latest announcement comes on the heels of reducing freight assessment charges which we were told will cost the Government some $4.5B. Thus, in the space of a few days, the Government through the two (2) initiatives have released some $7.1B into the hands of Guyanese.
Of course, those initiatives cannot be disconnected from other measures in recent times.
We have seen the restoration and increase of the public school and uniform grant; the increases in old age pension and public assistance, as well as the reversal of several anti- people measures imposed on ordinary Guyanese by the former Coalition Government. We noted following the President’s announcement, some of the usual suspects, offering their criticisms. While we recognize and respect their right to their views, at the same time, we measure their now utterances with their actions when they occupied more powerful posts in the land. Indeed, it is quite revealing that some who sought to impose hardship and burdens are now decrying efforts to uplift the well-being of Guyanese.
The Federation, at this time, looks forward to further reliefs being granted to our working people. We urge positive consideration of extending the electricity subsidy to all Guyanese irrespective of their consumption. The FITUG also seeks that the Government assess the excise taxes levied on fuel with a view to reducing the rising cost. This, we noted, the Minister of Finance recently indicated was attracting Government’s attention.
Moreover, we suggest the extension of the school child grant to private school pupils. We are aware of many poorer families seeking private education for their children and undoubtedly the grant would certainly help to ease their woes. This too we have seen Government indicating is in their thoughts.
We, however, believe a more lasting and appropriate measure would be the approval of the outstanding hike in the national minimum wage to $60,000 per month. We recognize that the nonimplementation stemmed from the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the business sector.
Though we are aware that the pandemic is still with us, we cannot ignore too media reports adverting to the healthy returns enjoyed by many enterprises. We noted too the plans by many businesses to expand their operations. For us it indicates that the business environment has and is improving. In such circumstances, there is a clear need to ensure that our workers who contribute to those successes are rewarded appropriately. It is in this regard that we urge the Government to move with alacrity in adjusting the national minimum wage.