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Former Member of Parliament, Mervin Williams believes the frenzied disbursement of cash grants to selected sections of the country is aimed at procuring votes for the ruling PPP/C Government.
He also questioned whether these “handouts” are sustainable poverty-alleviation measures.
“I note with interest the disbursement of cash grants to select sections of society within recent times. I have two concerns.
Firstly, there is the question of inequality in this operation. Secondly, there is the question of sustainable communities and livelihood. Can these cash grants, disbursed as they are being disbursed engender sustainability in the lives of the recipients?” Williams an executive member of the PNCR and also a former presidential advisor on indigenous affairs wrote in a letter to the editor.
Since coming to office, the PPP/C has been about the country announcing cash Grant’s to farmers, fishermen, persons living with disabilities, sugar workers among others.
Williams noted that sugar workers (past and present), whether severed and in receipt of severance benefits or currently employed, received two hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($250.000:) each. Fisher folk (coastal) got one hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($150.000:) each. Cash crop farmers got one hundred thousand dollars ($100.000:) each regardless of the acreage they cultivate, while rice farmers got twenty thousand dollar ($20.000) for each acre they cultivate. Coastal farmers were reportedly promised free fertilizers. Residents of riverine communities will get twenty five thousand dollars ($25.000:) each.
“Hundreds of citizens, perceived to be supporters of the APNU+AFC Administration of 2015 to 2020 were fired from their jobs. Hundreds more were forced to resign through applied political pressure. Some were made redundant. Most will never be re-employed by the public sector organisation under this Administration. Many private entities refuse to employ these people for fear of losing their lucrative government contracts. These are mostly poor working class citizens with families to feed with meagre or no income at all.
Why is there no cash grant for these citizens? Why? Is it a case of vote procurement and those whose votes cannot be bought must suffer?”
“Then there is the issue of the residents of riverine communities. These communities are predominantly in Guyana’s hinterland. The residents of these communities are predominantly Indigenous Guyanese. Indigenous Guyanese in these communities are all farmers and fisher folk!
How can it be fair and reasonable for persons who are both farmers and fisher folk to be promised twenty five thousand dollars ($25.000:) when other farmers and fisher folk get between one hundred and two hundred and fifty thousand dollars each ($100.000: – $250.000:)? Where is the equality? Where is the fairness and reasonableness?”
Williams said it is clear that those perceived as non-supporters of the PPP and Guyana’s Indigenous population are second-class citizens in this One Guyana equation. “We are worth less and placed in a category way below the highly valued sugar workers, rice farmers and fisher folk of coastal Guyana. So much for the empty, useless, One Guyana slogan,” Williams said.
According to him he is yet to hear how the PPP plans to bring about sustainable communities and livelihoods through unequal, discriminatory cash grants, which closely resembles a vote procurement strategy rollout.