Although saying he supports conditional transfers to citizens, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has cast doubt on Working People’s Alliance (WPA) Executive Professor Clive Thomas’ suggestion of introducing cash transfers for every household from expected oil revenues, while dismissing it as a ploy for the 2020 general elections.
“I support conditional transfers. We have done that before. We need to help poor people,” Jagdeo told a press conference on Thursday.
“Something is wrong with the mathematics. I believe that this entire process by Thomas, [David] Hinds and the WPA is to fool people in 2020 again. It is to say, ‘Give us another chance,’” he, however, added.
He suggested that the call is designed to mislead people into thinking that they will get large sums of money when it is not true.
“They do not have the means to do so. They are raising expectations unnecessarily and spreading false hopes,” he said, while questioning how government will save up to US$10 billion of oil money by 2032 if it were to spend it from a pool of money that should go into a stabilisation fund, savings fund and catalytic investments fund.
“US$5,000 a year multiplied by 200,000 households gives you a figure of US$1 billion. We are only going to collect in the first four years US$300 million a year,”
Noting that he supported conditional transfers, he said his government had done it before by partnering with the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry in the Women of Worth scheme in which women, particularly single women, were given interest-free loans.
“The availability of credit to poor people is critical for them to start businesses and to get out of poverty. Government should do this sort of thing and not create a syndrome where people believe that because oil is coming we will get a sum of money every year and we will have to stop working,” he argued.
Stating that he was not against giving money, he questioned what will happen in the years when oil prices sink low.
Giving money, he said, should be conditional in terms of helping people to create jobs, putting money into education by giving students scholarships to the best universities in the world and upgrading the University of Guyana to a top notch university to develop a knowledge-based economy.