Teach a man to fish and he can feed himself for a lifetime. Give him one every other day, he will remain dependent.
This maxim is what Finance Minister, Winston Jordan used to convey his perspective on the notion that there should be cash transfers from the oil wealth to every household.
Speaking to members of the media yesterday, Jordan said that the idea of cash transfers is not new to Guyana. He said, “We did it in several places. Even when I was small, you took your baby to the clinic and you got several things like milk, porridge, etc.” The economist noted however that if such a mechanism is not bound by rules, then it can be a victim of mismanagement.
Rather than give people US$5000, the Finance Minister said that other issues can be looked at such as small businesses and education, health and youth programmes. Jordan said he is interested in hearing the ideas of others as it relates to creating more opportunities that would lead to lasting incomes for citizens as opposed to short-term ones.
Further to this, Jordan said that the government is already doing a variant of cash transfers which is in the form of uniform vouchers. He said that these types of cash transfers directly affect certain groups. He does not believe that handing someone a cheque for a large sum of money would have the same effect.
He said, “I remember when we gave out the first $50,000 bonus in 2015 and I asked someone what they did with it and the person told me how the money is joke money. She said how it is just one pack of hair. And that is around Christmas time…I am not saying that is what everyone will do when they get windfall money but you get an idea of how some people think.”
Jordan said that the idea of cash transfers has not reached the level of Cabinet as yet. He is concerned, however, with the expectations such discussions might be fueling. The Finance Minister stressed that at this point in time, Guyana needs to be focused on national issues and how the oil wealth might be used to address them.