Our strategy is to increase disposable income – Pres Ali on tackling poverty




Members of the Guyanese diaspora in Los Angeles, California, USA, were on Sunday assured by President Dr Irfaan Ali that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government is focused on poverty reduction and creating a better life for Guyanese and a country they can be proud of.

The President highlighted some of the initiatives undertaken by his Government that go beyond handouts while making it clear that the Government has among its objectives lending support to the creation of small and medium-sized businesses, as well as employment opportunities.

“The strategy is to increase disposable income at the family level because you cannot hand out resources as a strategy. You can hand out resources as a stimulus under certain conditions like the pandemic,” Ali explained to the diaspora.

This includes attracting new investors, call centres, employment opportunities for vulnerable groups including single mothers, developing a national skills development institution, and other initiatives targeted at empowering people.

According to President Ali, the Government is also focused on improving the services provided to Guyanese at a structural level, across the different sectors. He made it clear that as President, this responsibility is taken very seriously.

“I do not sit as an emperor (in Guyana). I sit in a chair in which every Guyanese trust me and the Government, Parliament, everyone, the policymaking system, to create an environment in which they can have a better life,” the President said.

“In which we can provide better services for them, whether it’s in health, education, a country in which every single citizen can experience prosperity. Every single citizen must be proud to say anywhere they are, that they are Guyanese and they belong to the beautiful country of Guyana.”

Talking about education, President Ali said that investing in the human resource of Guyana and ensuring that children coming out of school are equipped to take advantage of opportunities in the changing economy, is important. This includes plans to train 6000 Guyanese for the hospitality sector and training in software development.

“Our goal in the near future is to have every child coming out of primary school have elementary training in coding. Every single child. And every child leaving secondary school must have the opportunity to have intermediate training and skills development in software development,” he added.

In light of the rising cost of living occasioned by global events, the Government has been taking a hands-on approach to providing relief.

This has included the provision of thousands of part-time jobs and millions in cash grants for persons to start their own small businesses in various communities. Additionally, the Government recently rolled out close to $2 billion in relief for the mining community.

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

Among the announcements was the distribution of a one-off $25,000 cash grant to every household in the riverine and hinterland communities of the country. This measure, according to Ali, would result in $800 million being pumped into the economy and would cushion the impacts of the rising cost of living.

“The second measure I wish to look at is fertiliser support to farmers. In order to cushion the impact of the rising cost of fertiliser on farmers and to limit the pass-through to food prices, my Government will be purchasing 1 billion dollars’ worth of fertiliser for free distribution to farmers for use in planting and replanting activities,” President Ali had said.

According to the President, this initiative is being done “considering that fertiliser accounts for between 15 to 30 per cent of the total operating cost for farmers. This initiative will significantly reduce input cost, and help ensure scaled-up production and adequate supply of output, which is critical to maintaining price stability.”

The third measure announced by the Government is the setting up of a special unit to help landowners of both private and Government-owned lots to build their houses. President Ali has said the unit would support applicants with the process of applying to banks for financing, and with the initial phase of construction by releasing the necessary resources.