KINGSTON, Jamaica, September 18, 2022 - People's National Party President Mark Golding has again called on the government to take steps to cushion the crisis of the high cost of living that has afflicted Jamaicans over the past two years.
During his address to the party's 84th annual conference in Kingston today, Mr. Golding said the Jamaican economy “has come through a two-year global Pandemic. It has resulted in severe economic dislocation. The Jamaican economy has not yet recovered the lost ground. And now we are also living through a time of harsh global inflation, and a time of war.”
"The pressure on families is hard, especially those on low, fixed wages that are being ravaged by inflation. The minimum wage of $9,000 is already too low. It was a minor increase of $2,000 after 4 years, and this year’s price increases have wiped it out. It must be increased to a liveable wage, reviewed annually to account for inflation," Mr Golding told cheering PNP supporters.
He pointed out that “Prices of basic necessities - food, electricity, transportation, medication – have risen above and beyond people’s incomes; and continue to rise week in, week out. We have seen continued increases in the prices of chicken, rice, flour, bread, cooking oil, corned beef; and not to mention saltfish, which is now a luxury item. At $240, a patty costs more than an hour’s labour at the minimum wage! People are struggling to survive,” Golding lamented.
He said there was “a critical need for the government to cushion the crisis. The thing that is now on everybody's mind now is their very survival. But the Government is failing the people,” and what's needed is a government that will cushion the crisis and help them ride out the storm.”
The PNP President is proposing that the government “provide at least J$40 billion, or about 2.0% of GDP, to provide vulnerable Jamaicans with a more adequate programme of support, and fund it by slowing the pace of debt reduction until this crisis has passed.”
He said a PNP government would be strengthening programmes for vulnerable members of our society - families on PATH, NIS pensioners, persons on poor relief, and female headed households struggling to survive.
“We would be supporting small farmers so that they can produce food to feed the nation and reduce wasteful food imports. We would be giving transport operators and motorists a break and reduce transport costs by capping the ad valorem gas tax at the budgeted oil price of US$67.50 per barrel.
“We would remove the oil hedge tax, which is not being used for its intended purpose of protecting Jamaicans as insurance against high oil prices, or we would reallocate it to help low-income households cover the expenses of regularizing their electricity connections and to go solar to reduce their light bills.
“We would assist the many small businesses that are going under, as they face higher interest rates and consumers with less and less disposable income.
“These are strategic investments in the Jamaican people, and the society as a whole, in a time of crisis. So when you hear me say cushion the crisis, it is not just about how we live in the present; it is also about how we prepare for the future.
“We must protect our society today, to ensure a better and stronger tomorrow. It will help the economy to recover from the pandemic recession, and generate more revenues to resume the path of debt reduction.” Mr. Golding told his supporters.