Opposition Leader, Aubrey Norton is of the firm conviction that every Guyanese household can receive GYD$1M each, given the country’s newfound access to oil proceeds. However, the country’s Vice-President, Bharrat Jagdeo, has argued that such a transfer would not be feasible.
Norton made his case during a press conference this morning when he detailed plans for the country if his party assumes leadership. He talked about a detailed poverty reduction strategy, the relocation of coastal inhabitants from areas along the flood-prone coastal regions and the placement of monies “directly” into the hands of Guyanese.
Expounding on the latter, the Guyanese leader noted that with the country’s current oil earnings, each household could comfortably receive the payout. He said while dubbing the government’s proclivity to offer one-off cash grants as corrupt and irrelevant to reducing poverty.
“At present, I think $1M can be offered to households, however, in advocating that, we said that it must be structured and transparent and not politicized as we are seeing now. These one-off cash grants cannot solve the problems of poverty and we will change the approach and ensure we put resources directly in the hands of people,” Norton said.
The Vice-President, mere hours after Norton’s press engagement, plainly referred to this counterpart’s comment as “crazy and unsubstantiated”. He said that it was Norton’s A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) government that discontinued the $10,000 student cash grant when it rose to power in 2015. He said that if the party could not maintain the payout of such a small amount, it stands to reason whether the APNU+AFC would be up to the task of sticking to such a massive commitment to transfer $1M to citizens.
“Crazy, unsubstantiated statement from the Leader of the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition said that if they were in power, he would have given a million Guyanese dollars to every household in the country. Now, we recall that they took away the $10,000 (school cash grant). They couldn’t keep the $10,000 for the children, because they said they couldn’t afford it. But he would have given $1M to every household?”
Jagdeo said that the aggregated sum of such a payout would be US$1.7B annually, a figure that is greater than the sum of oil monies utilised so far from the Natural Resources Fund in the last two years.
“Last year was the first year that we used monies. We transferred from the fund just over US$600M, and this year, it’s just over US$1B. So all of the money transferred from the fund, many of which we have not yet utilised, would not even be adequate to keep that $1M commitment for a single year. It is this sort of economics – I don’t know if you can call it ‘economics’, but it’s a sort of rambling that leads people to not take us seriously as a country,” Jagdeo said.