Georgetown, Guyana—(January 15, 2024) His Excellency President Dr Irfaan Ali says that the historic $1.1tn 2024 budget will target a number of measures to ensure that citizens live a prosperous life including increasing disposable income, services and systems of governance to create an environment where all citizens can have improved livelihood and enjoy a more prosperous life.

This budget, the President explained, themed, ‘Staying the Course: Building Prosperity for All’, will result in more than $100bn being injected back into citizens’ pockets.

The President made the statement during a live broadcast after the budget was presented to the National Assembly by Senior Minister within the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, the Honourable Dr Ashni Singh.

During the broadcast, the President expounded on a number of initiatives featured in this year’s budget that is aimed at increasing disposable income, services, government systems and that will provide citizens with more finances and opportunities for development.

These measures, the President pointed out, include increasing the income tax threshold from $85,000 to $100,000.

“This would cost almost $5bn but we are doing this in the interest of you, the people.”

Another initiative aimed at increasing the disposable income of citizens, especially vulnerable groups, will be the expansion of the Part-Time Employment Programme.

“That programme last year cost us about $6bn. We employed about 15,000 persons across every single region. In Budget 2024, we are going to expand this programme by budgeting $10bn to the part-time employment programme so we can bring more persons on board to aid and help in the services provided by the Government, help in community development and community work; and at the same time, we will be expanding household and community disposable income by $10bn.”

Additionally, the President added, that this year, the budget will facilitate an increase in old age pension to $36,000 per month, which reflects a 75% increase in old age pension since the Government took office in late 2020. This, the President pointed out will benefit more than 76,000 pensioners and will add another $2.7bn of disposable income to their monthly finances. The minimum pension paid through the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) will also be increased from $35,000 to $43,075 monthly, which will add another $2.6bn of disposable income to thousands of eligible pensioners all across the country. Survivors Pension and Invalidity Pension will also be increased to $21,530 and $43,075 per month respectively.

“These are the types of investments we are making to bolster income and to target the most vulnerable, bringing equity and ensuring that we build a society in which disparity does not widen or create gaps within our society. This is how you implement and plan measures in the interests of people, and this is what we mean when we say building prosperity across our country in every single household.”

President Ali also pointed out that the ‘Because We Care’ cash grant for school children that was reinstituted by his Government in 2020 will see a further increase from $35,000 to $40,000 per child in addition to the $5,000 uniform grant. This, the President said, will inject more than $1bn of disposable income into the pockets of all public and private school children.

Public Assistance for persons living with disabilities will also be increased to $19,000. 

OTHER MEASURES                   

Other measures, the President highlighted, include keeping the taxes on fuel at 0% which will result in consumers saving more than $75bn; extending the measures aimed at reducing freight costs until the end of December 2024 and removing Value Added Tax (VAT) and duty on essential cell phone accessories and parts, sport equipment and firefighting equipment.

The President also pointed out that his Government will create a pathway for debt write-offs for persons with outstanding student loans at the University of Guyana. This, he underscored, will be the first phase of his Government moving towards making the University of Guyana free for all.

The Government will also embark on programmes that will see every school child and pensioner receiving a $3,000 voucher to test their eyes and a $15,000 voucher to purchase prescription glasses and provide every woman in the country between the ages of 21 and 65 with an $8,000 voucher to do cervical tests. The latter, the Head of State explained, will be further supported as the Government invest billions of dollars into treatment facilities for persons who are detected through the early detection programme.

“So not only are we going to give you the budget to do the test, but we are going to build the capacity and buy the equipment… This is caring for our women in society. This is giving them a better life. This is giving them a healthier life. This is giving them the standard of living that we want our people to enjoy.”

Through all of this, and other measures and programmes that will be implemented and supported through this year’s budget, the President said that together, a stronger, more prosperous and united Guyana for all citizens will be built.