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President Ifraan Ali’s reason to deny the citizenry’s call for cash transfers is a fallacy. This is what he said last Thursday at a State House event:- “I can say like many others, let’s give everybody $1 million each. First of all, it is nonsensical because we can’t afford it even at the highest point of oil revenues.” This is a shameless deception to the nation.
The call for cash transfers, which came to national prominence by Professor Thomas, is for US$5000 (GY $1 million) per household. This nation is therefore reminded of Thomas’ words way back in 2018: –
“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. I don’t think giving cash transfers to persons are a waste of resources. If you look at the evidence, cash transfers are the single most effective means of combatting poverty.”
Thomas is a well-respected international economist. There is no doubt, given his academic and professional integrity, he would have done his homework.
It is very troubling therefore when the leader of a country engages in such deception in the quest of denying citizens what is rightfully theirs.
Ali, apart from being the recipient of cash transfers by virtue of his position and the manner in which he spends the nation’s money as though it is his, has been selectively dispensing cash transfers to those he thinks are deserving. So, it is not a matter that the country cannot afford cash transfers; it has become a matter of who Ali and Bharrat Jagdeo decide not to give.
Conversations on cash transfer have been in the public domain for years and there have been various iterations on how best these could be dispersed in an equal and equitable manner.
The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) too echoed support for cash transfers and did propose direct and indirect forms of disbursement in order that each household and their children could benefit.
Ali must present to this nation the evidence why each household cannot be recipients. It is not sufficient for this regime to determine who gets and who is being denied, when thus far the various forms of cash transfers have not been equitable and deliberately skewed to deny some groups and individuals.
When the government provides concessions to private businesses it is a form of cash transfer because the state is giving up revenue that could have gone to the Consolidated Fund.
Government’s free distribution of fertilizers to farmers is another form of cash transfer because it is the government that pays for the commodity.
The non-payment of taxes on salaries to the president and ministers is a form of cash transfer because that money is not placed in the Consolidated Fund. On the other hand, taxes on the income of ordinary workers are deducted before they receive their wages and salaries.
Ali is running from an intelligent national discourse on the management of the oil and gas revenue that could ensure every citizen benefit based on a national policy grounded in equity and equality.
The ordinary man and woman in this country, the teacher, the public servant, the sugar workers, miners and others, are deserving of receiving cash transfer and are looking forward to it.
Now that the record is set straight on how the disbursement should be made Ali must move to get it done. It is not sufficient to make national policy based on deception.