Cash transfer proposal is an elections gimmick

Dear Editor,

During the 2015 election campaign, I saw just how easy it was for a person to be fooled.

On the campaign trail in 2015, with the words “YOUTH” and “JOBS” boldly printed on a banner used as a backdrop, the then Presidential Candidate David Granger urged the crowd to vote for change because the PPP/C government was failing to create jobs for our youth, “When I go up and down the East Coast what do I see? Young men and young women who cannot find jobs. I go to some Mario’s Pizza Hut and what do I see? Young women with eight CXC subjects slicing pizza. Young men with ten CXC subjects (are) conductors of mini-buses.” Then after he became President, a young reporter asked President Granger, “Every night I leave Stabroek Market square where I go to buy cook-up rice. There is a big sign that says “job creation” with your face and the Prime Minister’s face. We’ve seen no large scale job creation at this time. Can you say what are the government’s precise plans towards this?” With a straight face, Granger replied, “There is no magic wand… The government cannot provide jobs in the government service, in the police force or the defence force… Employment is not something to be provided by the government, there is self-employment. If it is making pepper sauce or guava jam or guava cheese or plantain chips, these are commodities which can be sold in our own restaurants. For example, there are a lot of fish and chips shops now, you can sell cassava chips or sweet-potato chips, you can sell cook-up rice.”

This is a damning indictment of a leader who either deliberately fooled the electorate pre-election to win votes, or is one without a clear vision or plan to fulfill his campaign promise of job-creation.

Then again on the 2015 campaign trail, the then AFC+APNU Candidate, Khemraj Ramjattan made a promise to supporters in Berbice that he must have known was beyond his pay-grade, “As part of taking care of the people, we have to ensure that certain industries that are the foundation of this economy, Guyanese economy, are looked after. And in Berbice here, there are two major ones: the sugar industry and the rice industry. And I want to tell you that the propaganda you are hearing that the APNU/AFC coalition is going to ground both industries to the dirt, it’s all lies. We are not going to, in any way, close the sugar industry.”

In addition, the government lied about the US$18 million Signing Bonus they received from ExxonMobil. Government also lied to the people about the salary increase for government ministers; about drug shortages and the Sussex Street Pharmacy Bond. They lied

about the D”Urban Park white elephant; the deplorable state of the economy and the horrendous crime statistics.

These are not ordinary lies I’m talking about, they impact negatively on people’s lives and on the future of our country. When it comes to lying, this government has no shame.

Now it is being proposed by WPA Executive member, Professor Clive Thomas and supported by leading members of the coalition, that “some portion of the net cash flow from oil should be dedicated to giving cash transfers to every single household in this country. Whether it be US$5000 per year or whatever it works out at, we can do the calculations but there must be a mechanism which dictates that every single household and by extension, every single person would see the benefit of oil and gas in terms of a cheque or cash.”

While I am strongly supportive of using oil revenues to lift Guyanese out of poverty; to provide real job opportunities for our youth; and a decent take-home pay for our teachers, nurses, and men and women in uniform; and while we must provide the best educational and medical services money can provide, giving all Guyanese the elusive “good life” the government has failed to deliver, this proposed US$5,000 giveaway is nothing more than a gimmick to once again fool the Guyanese people in an effort to win re-election in 2020.

As Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo recently said in his press conference, “They do not have the means to do so. They are raising expectations unnecessarily and spreading false hopes… 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 (from oil revenue).”

This government is desperate and is likely to do desperate things to stay in power. After the hammering it will get at the upcoming Local Government Elections later this year, the AFC will be classified a liability to the PNC/APNU and may also be forced to contest the 2020 national and regional election on its own. The APNU+AFC coalition has a history of fooling Guyanese, and they’re counting on us having short memories. While this ploy may have worked in the past, too many of our citizens have suffered from the lies and deception of the APNU+AFC for them not to see it as the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Yours faithfully,

Harry Gill

PPP/C Member of Parliament  

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