It's 4: 45 and President Jagdeo is about to wrap up a press conference, but we have this report filed by our correspondent at OP.
President Bharrat Jagdeo and not the Minister of Finance announced several wide-ranging temporary initiatives to help Guyanese hurdle the rising food prices and the soaring cost of fuel at the pumps.
Some of the plans run contrary to earlier utterances by Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds, who contended that more increases for workers would mean more disposable income and more wastage of money.
Addressing the media at the Office of the President, President Jagdeo noted that they plan to cushion the price of wheat by providing financial support to 22 bakeries (or 95 percent of the market), who would be directly affected by the recently announced increased of flour by NAMILCO.
“The Government will absorb the increase between the old price and the new price,” the Head-of-State noted.
He said that this should keep the increase price of flour out of biscuits, bread and pastries.
“ We hope that we will not see any price increase,” President Jagdeo stated.
Additionally, the Government will purchase 200, 000 1 kg packets of flour and resell it to vulnerable groups at current market prices. The packets will be distributed by the Guyana Marketing Corporation.
He expressed that the increased price of flour will be temporary, since the price of wheat on the world market is expected to decrease.
In relation to price increase, the President said that there will be 5 percent increase of wages for Public Service employees retroactive from January 1, 2008 and follows similar wage increases for teachers and discipline forces.
Further, the Government is to provide a temporary cost of living adjustment of $4000 per month for government employees who fall below the basic monthly salary of 50, 000 taking into account the 5 percent announced increases. The monies are non-taxable and will be paid during the months of January and December.
“We plan to review this at the end of 2008,” President Jagdeo said.
Some 20 million will be spent on distributing packets of seeds, pesticides and fertilizer hopefully in a drive to increase food production, not only on the larger scale, but could push kitchen gardens.
The head of state committed his self to meeting with stakeholders and Parliamentary parties to hammer out further interventions where necessary.