Guyana’s finance minister, Winston Jordan, says while the prospect of cash payouts to citizens from oil revenue has not been discussed at the level of Cabinet since it was first floated several months ago, it is not something that he would completely dismiss if it is done in a structured manner.
Speaking at his Main Street, Georgetown office on Monday, Jordan said if this is done, it must be structured in such a way that it has a direct impact on the vulnerable groups in society.
“If the transfers are targeted to the disadvantaged – the disabled, the elderly and so forth – perhaps that can be looked at,” he commented.
He urged Guyanese to have realistic expectations of oil revenue which the country will begin to receive within months when production from the Liza Phase 1 Development begins.
To this end, he said, “If it is a case that you are saying everybody in the population must get cash, I am saying now it wouldn’t fly….You (the government) don’t have the type of monies coming from oil to make a meaningful monthly transfer. I think what people don’t seem to get of the monies that are coming; a part has to be saved for future generations, a part has to be saved to use as buffer when the oil prices go up and down and a part will be used for developmental and other activities.”
It is against this backdrop that he suggested possibly using the oil proceeds to expand the Sustainable Livelihood and Entrepreneurial Development (SLED) programme. “That in itself is like a mini bank so we can perhaps make it a bit more structured and make reasonable loans available and accessible to a wide range of budding entrepreneurs (young people, women and even the disabled).”
He added that, “What I don’t want to sell is that people can stay home and see a cheque arriving in the mail. I am personally against that even if it was possible with the oil wealth.”
In 2018, Guyanese Economist, Professor Clive Thomas, had suggested a direct cash transfer to citizens from oil revenue.
He had said, “I believe that some portion of the net cash flow from oil should be dedicated and be given as cash transfers to every single household in this country.”
Professor Thomas had maintained that a proposal for cash transfer would be the best route for Guyana. In making the suggestion, he said, “We have to make people – poor people, ordinary people, the centre of our priorities. And it’s an insult to say that a teacher; if you give a teacher a cash advance that teacher would go home and throw back. Majority of people in this country are not stupid, and this is about creating opportunities for people.”