– Guyana introduces minimum wage, tax threshold adjustments
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, (DPI) – President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali has disclosed that Guyana is unequivocally poised for significant economic expansion, notably in non-oil sectors.
The president revealed that in the first half of 2023, the country experienced a 59.5 percent growth in real Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while the non-oil sector recorded a 12.3 percent surge.
“This is as a direct result of policy the metrics by the government in the country, reigniting the traditional sectors and expanding our economic footing,” he emphasised at a press conference at State House, Georgetown on Saturday.
According to President Ali, the agriculture, forestry, and fishing sectors have expanded by an estimated 7.6 percent in the first half of this year. These sectors, the president pointed out, were ‘completely destroyed’ under the previous coalition administration.
In comparison to the first half of 2022, the sugar industry has experienced a growth of 30.1 percent.
The president said, “we are fully committed to the sugar industry, the revival of this industry and the integration of this industry in the local economies in the regions of our country.”
The rice industry has also experienced growth, estimated at 3.2 percent when compared to the previous year.
President Ali attributed the increase to continued investment in drainage and irrigation, fiscal incentives, the utilisation of technology, research and development, as well as the opening up of new lands.
Other crops sector is estimated to have grown by 9.4 percent in the first half of this year, while the livestock industry also grew by an 9.4 percent.
“This is a clear demonstration as to how the model, the development model that we are using is producing that result,” he underscored.
The forestry sector recorded a 4.5 pe cent growth, while the finishing industry expanded by 9.9 percent, according to President Ali.
“When you understand the nature of the growth of the productive sector you will know that this growth is linked to critical competence of the economy, transportation and logistics, food, mechanical services, machining services, drivers. So that growth would translate into the development and advancement of other sectors and areas of our country,” he noted.
Meanwhile, in the first half of the year, the extractive sector (mining and quarry) exhibited an overall growth of 89.9 per cent, with strong progress noted in the petroleum subsector, which saw a growth of 98.4 percent.
President Ali emphasised that the government will collaborate with miners in the gold and bauxite industry to expand production and address the root causes of the sluggish deceleration in the first quarter of this year.
The manufacturing sector is estimated to have grown by 17.7 percent, construction by 44.1 percent and the services industry by 9.1 percent.
“The growth is at the household level and at the community level driven by a very strong, robust and accelerated housing program of the government of Guyana,” the president stressed.
Furthermore, credit to the private sector grew by five per cent; credit to business enterprises in the services and manufacturing sectors grew by 3.3 percent and 8.9 percent, respectively. Real estate mortgages (mortgages for home construction) grew by 7.3 percent.
Meanwhile, government is re-evaluating revenues, president Ali announces minimum wage, tax threshold adjustments
The government is currently re-evaluating the country’s revenues and projected revenues and, based on the outcomes of the evaluation, further adjustments to the daily minimum wage and the income tax threshold will be implemented.
“So, this is something that I am presently reviewing with an aim at the border adjustment in a daily minimum. Also reviewing the absorptive capacity at further advancing liquidity in your pocket…by an adjustment in the tax threshold,” he underscored.
President Ali stated that the administration is carefully scrutinizing the numbers and ensuring that any decisions made align with the sustainability of the economy, as that remains the utmost priority.
The minimum wage for the public sector is currently $75,000. In June 2022, the minimum wage for private sector employees rose from $44,200 to $60,000.
In the 2023 budget, finance minister Dr Ashni Singh proposed raising the income tax threshold to $85,000. This placed an additional $303 billion into the hands of taxpayers. The government has been actively addressing salary increase issues for various categories of public sector workers.
Last year, the government announced substantial salary increases, amounting to over $1 billion, benefiting 8,000 members of the disciplined services.
Furthermore, more than 5,000 healthcare workers received significant salary boosts, totaling $1.5 billion, with raises ranging from 36.4 percent to 74.7 percent.
These increments were implemented in addition to an eight percent across-the-board raise for all public servants, which was made retroactive to January 1, 2022.
The president has committed to addressing specific categories of public sector employees, with a particular focus on teachers, through a consultative process that not only considers salary adjustments but also housing and other needs.