Sugar workers to also benefit from 8% salary increase – VP Jagdeo

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

Workers attached to the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) will also benefit from the eight per cent salary increase that was announced last month for public servants.

This was announced by Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo during a press conference on Friday.

According to Jagdeo, this decision was taken at the Cabinet level on Thursday.

Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

“The sugar workers will also get an eight per cent increase in their [wages and] salaries,” the Vice President stated. Guyana Times understands that this increase will also be retroactive to January 1, 2022.

This represents the Government’s continuous interventions for the sugar industry to revitalise it to a state of viability. Only this week, the Government secured an additional $1 billion in supplementary funding to advance works at GuySuCo.

Last month, President Dr Irfaan Ali announced a retroactive across-the-board salary increase of eight per cent for all public servants. This pay raise is expected to be paid to eligible employees together with their December salary.

Additionally, the Head of State had indicated that further announcements will be forthcoming regarding specific categories of public sector employees. In fact, he has already rolled out salary adjustments for members of the Joint Services that will see ranks getting pay raises ranging from 5.8 per cent to 21.7 per cent for different levels of ranks from the various law enforcement agencies.

These increases, which will take effect from January 2023 and are added to their eight per cent pay hike, will see some 8000 services members benefitting from over $1 billion.However, there have been criticisms by some sections that this eight per cent increase is insufficient given the high cost of living Guyanese are currently faced with.

But VP Jagdeo on Friday reminded of the sleuth of initiatives and policy measures already undertaken by the PPP/C Administration to offset the burden of the rising cost of living, which is now a global phenomenon caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and rising oil prices due to the Ukraine-Russia war.

These include several direct transfers to citizens via cash grants such as several one-off payments to pensioners and $250,000 severance payment to thousands of sugar workers sacked by the previous Government; the growth in employment opportunities especially the part-time job initiative that put over $6 billion in the pockets of 11,000 beneficiaries; the fulfilment of promises relating to children via the “Because We Care” cash grant and bonuses to categories of public servants.

“[We took steps] to do two things: one, to increase income so that more people can have more money in their pockets… And then on the cost-of-living side, we have kept electricity and water rates constant. If you look at the last budget, we went for supplementary [funding] for those because the State has to subsidise water and electricity…”

“We didn’t allow electricity prices to go up, we didn’t allow water rates to go up – we absorbed it. We changed the rate of assessment for taxes not to reflect the higher freight increases, we’re now giving free steel and cement who are building low-income houses. All of these are measures that we took to try to cushion the cost-of-living increase,” Jagdeo asserted.

Earlier this week, the National Assembly approved over $47 billion in supplemental funds for a range of expenses including some $6.6 billion for the provision of additional resources for the payment of electricity arrears to the Guyana Power and Light Incorporated (GPL), which is being absorbed by the State.

Back in March, President Ali had announced that the Government would be absorbing the impact of rising fuel prices on the cost of services provided by electricity companies to ensure that it does not translate into high electricity bills for the Guyanese people.

Meanwhile, last week, Jagdeo told reporters that contrary to what most people believe, Guyana currently receives modest sums from the oil and gas industry.

“[But those modest funds] will grow to fairly large sums in the future years. We still run a huge fiscal deficit given the development needs and the other needs of the country for intervention… If you look on the whole how much has been given back to the Government to the people of this country on the tax measures that we reversed under APNU, if you analyse those measures, that’s $40 billion less in taxes that people have to pay. Public servants pay that too,” he pointed out.

The Vice President further stated that, “We have given out in cash grants to people about $12 billion in two rounds. The first round and then the second round in the hinterland and riverine areas… You have to look at all of these measures in a combined way to see benefits flowing back to the people of this country. It’s not just public service salary. It’s not just that, and we still run a fiscal deficit.”