‘We’re not opposed to cash grant’

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…McDonald tells Ramsammy opposition interested in transparency

While Advisor to the Minister of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy says that the Opposition is trying desperately to discourage Guyanese from the Government’s ‘Because We Care’ cash grant programme without good cause, General Secretary of the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) and Opposition MP, Coretta McDonald says the Opposition is not against the programme but interested in its transparency.

According to Dr. Ramsammy in a commentary on Tuesday, McDonald is leading the position that the cash grant programme is a “waste of money” when it stands to benefit children in public and private schools. He said that studies support the effectiveness and efficacy of such non-contributory cash transfers to improve the welfare of children and families in general.

He also said that when the former Government was in office it wasted taxpayers money that could have gone to the benefit of citizens. On the contrary, he spoke of President Irfaan Ali administration’s intention to increase the cash grant from $19,000 to $50,000 by the end of its term for greater benefit to Guyana’s children.

Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand MP cuts the seal on the box to distribute the grants in Region Two (DPI)

“With such strong evidence for cash transfers, it is shocking that leaders of the PNC (APNU/AFC) would spout nonsense such as the education cash grant is a wasteful way of spending taxpayers money and that the program will promote dependency syndrome in Guyana, leading to greater poverty. These assertions have been uniformly rejected by social scientists in hundreds of studies around the world,” Dr. Ramsammy stated, adding:


“Coretta Macdonald, the President of the Guyana Teachers Union (sic) and a PNC MP in the APNU/AFC faction has been the most vocal of the PNC leaders rejecting the cash grant programme, dubbing it an absolute waste. It is despicable that Ms. McDonald claims she represents the teachers, the majority of whom have lauded the PPP Government’s programme, whether it is the 2014 version or the 2021 version.”

However, in a post two days prior on her social media page, McDonald made it clear that the Opposition is not against the Government’s ‘Because We Care’ cash grant programme but is concerned about the transparency surrounding the initiative.

McDonald stated: “My Guyanese brothers and sisters, I have seen reports and comments from certain quarters on social media, spreading propaganda of anti-opposition stance against the ‘Because we Care Cash grant’ project. I wish to debunk these misinformation, disinformation, malicious and irresponsible utterances. For emphasis, the Opposition is not against assistance being rendered to our people. However, it is our belief that people should receive more than $19,000.00 currently being paid.”

Listing her concerns, she established that the request for “proper accountability” is justified as it remains a fact that the $3.2B being paid out as $19,000 per child in the public schools are “taxpayer’s money”.
Highlighting the recent COVID-19 grant distribution, she questioned what systems were in place to avoid similar payout challenges that occurred with the COVID-19 grants. She also questioned why hasn’t the authorities have not engaged Parent Teacher Association (PTA) bodies to get them on board.

“Teachers are not accounts clerks, they are educators and should not be distributing the monies,” she said.

McDonald also recommended that some of the funds set aside for the initiative could be used to procure laptops and tablets and to improve internet connectivity infrastructure with GTT and Digicel, especially catering to children residing in vulnerable communities.

On the other hand, Dr. Ramsammy holds the position that similar to its contention with the Government’s COVID-19 vaccination programme, the APNU/AFC is “trying desperately to discourage the education cash grant”.

The reintroduction of the ‘Because We Care’ cash grant programme was officially launched in Region Two on July 14, 2021. The grant was first introduced in 2014 valued at $10,000.

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