Cost of living has gone up

Stabroek News
July 6, 2001

Dear Editor,

A few days ago, I accompanied a friend of mine to his mechanic to have his car serviced - oil change, cleaning of points and checking battery water level. A small job I think. When the mechanic finished the work, my friend paid him one and a half times the amount he usually pays. The mechanic told us that the cost of everything has doubled and he expected to be paid double. My friend told him that his pension has not doubled and he cannot pay more at this time, but will try to do so on the next occasion. I went to bed that night thinking about what that mechanic said and woke up the following morning with it on my mind.

The government divested the Guyana Electricity Corporation to Guyana Power and Light, nearly three years ago and this company has got increases in electricity rates. There is an increase for the present month, July, and one is due in October. Where are we going to get this money from the pay these bills? When I accompany my wife to the supermarket to buy groceries I find that the amount we pay for the items we bought five years ago has doubled. Everybody is demanding more money for services.

The Guyana Public Service Union has been asking the government for an increase in salaries for public servants. In his budget speech the Hon. Minister of Finance said that provision is made in it for public servants increase in salaries, but it is negotiable. The increased cost of living is a problem.

Yours faithfully,
William Richards

Editor's note
According to a press release from the Bureau of Statistics "At the end of May 2001 the Urban (Georgetown) Consumer Price Index stood at a value of 162.2 index points. This increase represents a 0.1% rise in the prices of items in the month of May 2001. Even though there was an observed increase of prices in May, the index remained at a level of 0.5% below the December 2000 price level, again because of the steep decline in prices in the first quarter of this year, which has not been reversed by the increases noted in the last two months. Nevertheless there was a notable 4.5% inflation in the CPI within the period (May 2000 to May 2001).

The price increases for May were expectedly influenced by increases in the Food Group, which is the highest weighted group within the index, and which registered a 0.5% increase. This increase was primarily due to increases of prices in the subgroups of Pulses and pulse products (1.8%), Meat, fish and eggs (1.3%), Condiments and spices (1.4%), Vegetables and vegetable products (4.8%), Alcoholic beverages (2.8%) and Prepared meals (1.1%).

Additionally increases were also observed in other categories such as Ready-made clothing (0.4%), Rent and maintenance (0.8%), Restaurant services (0.9%), Personal transport equipment (0.8%) and Operation of personal transportation (1.4%), the latter being the direct result of the increase in the price of gasoline".

The increase in the cost of living therefore appears to be far less than suggested in the letter though the recent increase in electricity charges will have some effect.