Women's Issues In Guyana

It now costs over $2,000 a day to feed a family of four, immediate relief is needed

Posted in Culture & Society,Politics by wiig on April 27, 2008
Tags: , , ,

Stabroek News – April 27, 2008

Dear Editor,

Guyanese families have been feeling the effects of the global food crisis as the cost of living rises severely. Anyone who has gone into the market recently has come home noticing the same amount of money buys much less than before. It now costs over $2000 a day to feed a family of four (2 adults, 2 children) with a breakfast of tea, bread and an egg each. Lunch is a pound of chicken and bora and rice, a snack of fruit and biscuits for the children at school and bread and tea in the evening. A month of food is $60,000, and then there is rent, electricity, water and transportation costs to cover.

Yet the minimum wage is between $18,000 (private sector) to $28,000 (public sector) a month, if you are lucky enough to have one of these jobs regulated by these wages.

As prices for food and electricity skyrocket in Guyana it is increasingly difficult for many families to make ends meet. Those families that were barely scraping by last year are now facing a severe crisis in their homes, and many more families are being thrown into poverty and hunger during this critical time.
Although this is a global food and energy crisis and the cost of living is rising dramatically all over the world, it is the responsibility of the national governments to take action during this global crisis and ease the burden on their populations, especially those who are most vulnerable and in need. This government cannot continue to blame the global situation, repeat the mantra of the millions of dollars allocated to increasing pensions and social assistance payments and fail to implement measures for immediate relief. The budgeted amounts do not amount to lunch money for each household.  

This food crisis is a long-term problem which will not be quickly solved. While Guyana has begun to take steps for long-term solutions, such as the “Grow More” campaign and the single parents’ registry, these do not ease the immediate burden many are facing today. The “Grow More” campaign does not put affordable food in the markets and on the tables today.

This government must stop wasting time and take action now by implementing short-term emergency measures, such as reducing the VAT rate, subsidies and price controls on basic foods and it should also distribute basic food items to those in need including through health centres and school feeding programmes.

Other governments in developing countries such as Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, China, Thailand and Ethiopia have implemented emergency actions such as subsidies, price controls and food distribution programmes. Why is our government refusing to do so?

Unless short-term measures are taken now to ensure the health and survival of the population, the long-term growth and development of this country will never be successful.

Someone asked me recently if we have people in Guyana who are actually hungry because they cannot afford food. The answer is yes. In a time of crisis, it is the responsibility of those with power to care for those without.

Yours faithfully,
Karen de Souza for Red Thread


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