Economist, Dr Clive Thomas’ suggestion of using a portion of the oil monies for direct cash payouts to citizens has been welcomed by Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman.
Mr. Trotman, who is also the leader of the Alliance for Change (AFC), was addressing an AFC news conference on Wednesday at the Parliament buildings.
The suggestion was made at a recent event, where Dr Thomas said a percentage of the oil monies could be used for the disbursement of at least 5000 US dollars to every household.
Minister Trotman, said, “It is possible, I don’t believe we should reject it. It is possible if it is structured. You want to ensure that people who receive transfers have served their country and so we may look at it by adding value in the pensions.”
However, Dr Thomas’ suggestion has been heavily criticized by some persons, including Former Minister of Legal Affairs and PPP Parliamentarian, Anil Nandlall, who reportedly stated that ”If we follow this advice of Professor Clive Thomas, we will create a country of parasites.”
Minister Trotman, in response to Nandlall’s assertions, said, “I was aghast to see the description that Mr Nandlall ascribed to poor people, referring to them as parasites in Guyana. That is another low for Mr Nandlall.”
Additionally, Mr. Trotman said he will be making representation at the level of the Cabinet for such a system to be put in place since it has worked in many other countries.
He stated, “We have doubted ourselves for fifty years, and I have no doubt that in the twenty years that I have been in Parliament and National Politics, we have found every reason to doubt ourselves, to castigate ourselves, to pull ourselves down.”
The Minister underscored that it is the role of Governments, present and future, to ensure that Guyanese equally benefit from the oil wealth.
He stated that “I commend Professor Thomas for introducing a subject that some of us might not want to be introduced, but he is a Professor of Economics of international repute and he would not have talked out of the top of his head. I happen to know that we have in excess of four billion barrels of oil and if you were to value that conservatively at 50 dollars a barrel…it is a lot of revenue that is going to be coming and I do believe that this and future governments have a duty to spread that wealth in a responsible way to as many Guyanese as possible.”
The Minister of Natural Resources concluded that the Alliance for Change will support any initiative that supports poverty reduction and ensures that citizens benefit equally and also has an equal say in how the monies from oil and gas are spent.