President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali provided a comprehensive overview of the transformative measures outlined in Budget 2024 during a televised address to the nation on Monday.
Senior Minister within the Office of the President, with responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh announced a whopping $1.146 trillion budget for 2024, under the theme ‘Staying the course: building prosperity for all.’
President Ali emphasised that Budget 2024 provides a holistic perspective on the country’s development trajectory, showcasing key projects aimed at continuing the nation’s transformative agenda.
“We had another opportunity to showcase our model of development and outline a clear strategy through which we are building national prosperity and through which we are creating opportunities for every single Guyanese regardless of which region you live in, regardless of which sector you are in,” he said.
The president underscored that the measures specifically focusing on women, children, the elderly, and the youth with an estimated injection of over $100 billion.
He said, “All of these measures are aimed at increasing disposable income, putting more money in the pockets of people, bolstering income for vulnerable groups, and of course, improving the system of governance and the provision of services for our country.”
Notably, the President emphasised the government’s commitment to containing the cost of fuel, a move projected to save approximately $40 billion annually at current prices.
He elaborated on the impact of fuel costs and how it influences the overall cost of energy and essentially dictate the pricing structure across various sectors.
The ripple effect extends to the cost of production for farmers, manufacturing, and industries, ultimately determining the pricing of goods and services and transportaytion.
“And so, it is imperative that we address this issue that is so uncertain globally,” the president noted.
Additionally, the government’s adjustment of freight charges will continue this year, at a cost of over $6 billion.
President Ali also highlighted government’s part time job programme which was allocated the sum of $10 billion.
“What this means is that $10 billion that was not the year before is now available in communities across the country to be spent in the markets, in the local shop, and a person who has a low-income house, who now goes on this programme and get $40,000 every month, can repay the low-income loan and still have $12,000 in their pocket every month,” he explained.
The sum f $7 billion is also set aside to directly address and cushion the impact of cost of living.
Among the key provisions of Budget 2024 are increases in various pension categories. The old-age pension will see a rise to $36,000, benefiting 76,000 individuals, while public assistance will be increased from $16,000 per month to $19,000 per month.
The minimum National Insurance Scheme (NIS) pension has been increased to $43,075, benefiting over 27,000 people.
Additionally, the government will provide an $8,000 voucher to women aged 21 to 65 to help meet the cost of cervical cancer testing. Further, the Because We Care cash grant was increased to $40,000.
The budget also provides for the eliminating of outstanding loans owed by graduates of the University of Guyana. This marks the first phase of delivering on the PPP/C Manifesto promise to make tertiary education free by 2025.
Another significant change is the increase in the income tax threshold to $100,000, which will result in approximately 13,000 individuals being removed from the income tax bracket, allowing them to pay fewer or no taxes.