Everywhere I travel to conduct opinion polling in Guyana, public complain about high prices. Interviewers I utilized also note the same complaint. Prices are indeed very high with many basic items unaffordable for most consumers. For the past two years, Guyanese have been forced to spend double, if not more, as they claim and is supported by market prices, on normal food and energy budget and particularly on imported goods. The high price of goods is mostly an externally created artificial problem unrelated to the government of Guyana. High cost of imported goods results in higher cost of goods (including agricultural produce) at home. Government has nothing to do with the problem although government can do a lot more to counter it.
The cause of the domestically rapidly rising prices of goods has nothing to do with government. It is related to the Ukraine War, natural disasters (flooding in Guyana), shipping transportation costs as well as bottlenecks that result in shortages, energy (fuel and gas) prices. All have ripple effects on the economy. Covid 19 also created shortages of goods that led to price increases.
Scarcity of goods results in higher prices as one learns from basic economics. Food, petroleum, gas, and fertilizers are all affected by the Ukraine War resulting in relative scarcity. The demand for construction materials also result in higher prices for homes, etc.
The government has done as much as it could to decrease the high cost of living, to lower prices – subsidizing or supporting farming and horticulture with fertilizer and herbicide assistance and seeds, lowering duties on imports, cutting taxes on fuel, doling out various kinds of grants to all sections of society, compensating people for flood losses. Government has also lowered income taxes so that people have more disposable income. Businesses taxes haves also been lowered with the expectation that their savings will be passed on to consumers with lower prices. Infrastructure is modernized and expanded so that workers will spend less time and money to get to work, increasing their productivity. With better roads, goods can get to market expeditiously resulting in lower costs and prices for consumers.
The government is commended for all it has done to aid consumers and home owners. Farmers are being assisted tremendously and encouraged to produce more food that will inevitably result in lower prices. On this note, the Ministry of Agriculture and the minister himself are saluted for their efforts to produce more food to keep the lid on prices. Government should consider increasing assistance to farmers to produce – financial incentives based on productivity. An increase in agricultural production will result in lower food prices.