…Prof. Clive Thomas tells Buxton/Friendship residents
By Kiana Wilburg
With the onset of oil, Professor Clive Thomas believes that the government of Guyana has a unique opportunity to do something meaningful and tangible for the nation’s poor.
And what better way to do it, Dr, Thomas says, than to put aside a portion of the oil and gas money for the less fortunate.
The economist suggested that almost every household should get US$5000 per year.
He made these and other remarks yesterday afternoon at the Eusi Kwayana Emancipation Symposium, which took place at Friendship Primary School.
Thomas was part of the panel which included Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hughes.
Professor Thomas said, “I believe 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…I believe that there can be no better spender of resources that the person themselves. No one can tell you how to better spend money on what you need than yourself…”
Dr. Thomas said he is afraid that the national debate is moving “further and further away from this reality.” He noted that some critics have often quoted the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which said that the idea is simply a waste of resources. But he does not agree with this.
Professor Thomas said that indeed, some people can point to many examples where this mechanism has failed. He noted however that there are instances where this can also work.
“…One friend told me it is done in Alaska and it is not failing,” he said.
Professor Thomas acknowledged that there is a risk that such a mechanism can fail, that the politicians can steal the money. But he stressed that there is no certainty with that. He insisted that systems can be put in place to ensure that it works for the people.
“Otherwise, you know who is going to get it? The same middle class that is running the industry today and saying that it is not really going…” Dr. Thomas concluded that the poor and powerless must stand up for their interest.
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