Building an inclusive future is at the core of the government’s development agenda.
Its investments in infrastructure and social services go hand-in-hand with programmes aimed at protecting and supporting Guyana’s vulnerable groups.
The 2024 budget showcases specific measures that empower these groups, fostering greater well-being and contributing to overall prosperity.
Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance and Public Service, Dr Ashni Singh, has emphasised that this budget paves the way for accelerated, people-centred development.
“We will deliver the things that we have promised and we will continue to work through budget 2024 and through budget 2025…The People’s [Progressive] Party Civic will be able to craft and implement budgets that are in the interest of all of the people of Guyana,” the minister said during his presentation to the National Assembly, as the $1.146 trillion budget was passed.
Keeping in mind the aim of increasing the benefits received by pensioners, the government has increased the old-age pension from $33,000 to $36,000 per month.
Since resuming office, the old age pension has seen consistent increases, moving from $20,500 in 2020 to $33,000 last year. This marks a significant boost of 75 per cent, and will benefit 76,000 persons.
The same trend has been replicated with public assistance payouts, which have increased from $9,000 in 2020 to $16,000 monthly last year. This year, public assistance has increased from $16,000 monthly to $19,000, benefitting over 35,000 persons.
Additionally, all persons with a disability will be automatically registered to receive public assistance.
In the healthcare sector, school children and pensioners are receiving much-needed eye care through the government’s investments in improving access to these services.
In 2024, over 205,000 school children and 76,000 pensioners will benefit from a $3,000 voucher, which will go towards the cost of an eye test. This critical service will determine whether these persons require spectacles to aid their vision.
Should they need spectacles, the government will provide a $15,000 voucher to go towards the cost. This comprehensive plan amounts to $1.8 billion.
Women between the ages of 21 and 65 will also benefit from an $8,000 voucher to meet the cost of cervical cancer testing, at an aggregate amount of $2.8 billion. This aligns with the aim of amplifying efforts for early detection of cervical cancer to prevent and reduce illnesses and death from the disease.
Retirees will also continue to feel the government’s love and appreciation, as they are set to receive a more substantial income with the new minimum pension raising from $35,000 monthly to $43,075 monthly.
This intervention will put $2.6 billion in additional disposable income into the hands of over 27,000 persons.
Importantly, the minimum pension payable to dependants of a deceased insured pension has been increased from $17,500 monthly to $21,537, benefitting over 12,000 persons.
Over 200 persons will now have more financial assistance to improve their lives through an increase in the invalidity benefit from $35,000 monthly to $43,075.
Eligible National Insurance Scheme (NIS) contributors who have not met the minimum requirement of 750 contributions to qualify for receipt of old age pension will be catered to through this year’s budget, as funds have been allocated to facilitate a one-off grant depending on the year in which the last contribution was made. These and other measures demonstrate the government’s resolve to empower citizens financially and navigate emerging hurdles with a proactive and strategic approach.