Whether rich or poor, all Guyanese deserve to get a direct benefit from Guyana’s first cheque from its oil wealth says Financial Analyst Sasenarine Singh.
During an exclusive interview with the Guyana Standard last night, Singh said that at least 20 per cent of the money should be dedicated to this cause and with certain conditions attached.
In this regard, Singh opined that the money should be granted on the condition that it would be spent on value-added activities such as the purchasing of a car or a house or investment in education.
Further to this, the Financial Analyst said that another 40 per cent should be placed into an infrastructure fund which would be used in an efficient manner to support big projects such as a deep-water harbour and the road to Lethem, or even to fund public-private partnerships. The remaining 40 per cent, he suggested, should be put aside for the Natural Resource Fund where only the interest earned on that sum would be injected into the national budget.
Singh said, “Most politicians would say it is not good to give direct cash transfers. Well, most politicians don’t think as much as they should about the people…I say give the people a direct contribution so they can take care of their own business. They people know what their needs are.”
While there have been suggestions in some quarters that part of the first US$300M could be used to incentivise free tertiary education, Singh said that this may be a wrong approach. The analyst said that free education is important when it is contributing to the national development of the country.
The Financial Analyst articulated that Guyana must first conduct a needs assessment for the respective sectors and, based on the number of professionals needed, scholarships can be offered for the respective areas. “So if you find that there is a need for engineers, you can offer scholarships for engineering programmes,” added Singh.
The cash handouts matter was first raised by Economist and Presidential Advisor on Sustainable Development Dr Clive Thomas in August 2018. He had expressed the view that a portion of the oil money should be set aside so that the less fortunate could benefit from a direct transfer. He recommended that US$5,000 be given out per year to every poor household.
As an economist, Vice-President Carl Greenidge has also been a proponent of cash handouts. He had told the Guyana Standard that cash handouts to citizens using a portion of the oil money to come is not only possible but feasible, depending on the arrangement being used.
The coalition administration is still to decide the way forward on this matter.