Apr 13, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – The government’s COVID-19 cash relief provision of $25,000 per family has meant a lot to many families that were faced with numerous hardships during the pandemic that is still ongoing. It was a most welcomed gesture, a helping hand from the state that made a difference to those who were past the stage of making ends meet, which they just could not do anymore. The numbers are a mouthful, and we take a look at them, and share some thoughts.
First, the sum of “$4.5 billion was allocated for the first phase of the grant” (KN April 11) that commenced last September. This was added to, when “in December, the National Assembly approved an additional $2.5 billion to continue the cash grant relief efforts” (also KN April 11). That is a total of $7 billion local dollars, which at $25,000 a family, covers 280,000 families. This is all helpful, with families in every community, from close to distant, being participants in the cash grant relief programme. It may not have been much to those on the middle and upper rungs of this country’s economic ladder. But it meant a world to those many families and individual citizens fastened at the bottom end of that same economic ladder.
After a thorny and stormy elections season, a very lengthy one, it is noteworthy that the then new government moved with speed and decisiveness to extend that hand with a bit of cash to all citizens and their families. The PPP/C government and its leaders are due a nod of approval. Many more nods can be given, but the grounds that are deserving of such must be provided. We at this paper have been waiting to give those approving nods, but our necks have stiffened from the waiting and hoping. On the big things in this country, it seems that we are frozen in the exact same places where we have always been compelled to be.
We are told little, less than we know of the COVID-19 cash relief programme, and the glows in which the government basks, and of which it reminds the nation, of how well it did with that. We agree to an extent at this time, (more on which will follow later in this writing); but we want to be told more, and know more, about those significant things that make up the hopes and dreams of the citizens of this society. We want to know much more about oil. And when we speak of oil, there is the vast expanse of darkness that surrounds and saturates what the leaders of the PPP/C government are doing (really doing) with the nation’s oil wealth. Tell us some more, much more than we know right now.
We know a lot about COVID-19 cash relief, compliments of His Excellency, President, Irfaan Ali, and the Hon. Minister of Local Government, Nigel Dharamlall, and for which we utter a word of thanks. From Minister Dharamlall, we know so much about who has received, who else will now be beneficiaries, and which communities will be involved in the upcoming second phase of the cash grant distribution programme. By the same token, we would like to know, and would be appreciative, to know about Payara (through the delivery of the report deceivingly promised, but cunningly withheld for many long months now). We want to know more about the proposed gas-to-shore project to be sited at Wales (through the laying bare before the populace, of all the details of comprehensive and trustworthy studies as to its financial feasibility, by ethical people). We want to know more about what Exxon is doing out there, 125 miles from our shoreline. We want to know what Guyana’s EPA is all about in being robustly protective of the local interests, and why there is the insistence and irrational haste to ramp up oil production. There is so much more we want to know about this oil treasure of ours, but we leave things alone with those few areas for now.
PPP/C leaders have been loud in their many self-congratulations about COVID-19 cash grant, for which they are due a bow. But with a total of $7 billion being distributed, and in cash, we would hope that somebody is closely watching that ringing cash register. It is an all-cash setup, which would tempt even saints, and we know from long bitter experience that many of our political people, and our professional public servants, have helpless weaknesses around cash. To repeat, a programme involving $7 billion dollars in actual cash (no cheques and money orders and the like) is one that gives a lot of ideas.
It is our belief at this publication that the many billions of barrels of oil and oil equivalents, and the many more billions in any currency are more than enough to make the best of men make utter fools of themselves. Silence cannot shield that, not even the thickest, longest darkness. For all these reasons, we say this simplest of things: if this oil blessing and business is being done right, then tell us how so and loudly. Just as is being done with COVID-19 cash.
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