Kaieteur News – Winston Jordan, former Finance Minister (has he settled down, meaning, no libel threats anymore to me?), no doubt being on the same political wave length as Professor Clive Thomas has massaged Thomas’ ego by referring to cash grant from oil as the Buxton proposal.
Thomas in instilling an ethnic, political ingredient to the cash grant from oil debate deliberately chose to name the idea, Buxton proposal. I have dealt with that silly name before (see my column of Thursday, October 7, 2021, “The Buxton Proposal: Subliminal ethnic instinct.”). Now Jordan has made Thomas happy by referring to that misleading fiction.
Here I will call it what everyone else in Guyana and in all oil economies refer to it as – cash grant from oil. I would suggest, persons who are not part of the political world of Clive Thomas and Winston Jordan, to use the term – “cash grant from oil.”
There are two contexts to understand before comprehending the cash grant proposal. Thomas made his money transfer suggestion in Buxton in 2019. That was four years, four months after three top leaders of the WPA – Thomas, Drs. Rupert Roopnaraine and Maurice Odle – secured state power.
In addressing the gathering at Buxton, Thomas and the chairman of the meeting, David Hinds, and the remnants of the WPA knew that after four years in government, the WPA’s big wigs had nothing to show the working people of Guyana and the citizens of Buxton. What was Thomas, Hinds and the remnants going to tell Buxtonians? So it is in that context one has to understand Thomas’ money transfer idea.
It was born out of propagandistic circumstances. After the suggestion hit the press, Thomas remarked that it is only the business class that would oppose the cash grant. I quote from my article, “Clive Thomas: Atavism or pappy show?” of Saturday, September 28, 2019: “I laughed even louder when he told his listeners on Monday that it is the business class that is opposing the idea but this same class don’t mind receiving tax breaks and subsidies. Well, this former revolutionary found his radical voice lost over the past four years.”
The second context relates to President Obama in Kenya. On visiting Kenya, Obama said that Africa needs to appreciate gay rights. The Kenyan president was livid and embarrassed Obama. The controversy was given global coverage. President Uhuru Kenyatta replied saying some basic things in Kenya need to be fixed before gay rights can be focused on.
He said America has fixed those things, so America could move on to gay rights. Kenyatta had in mind the basic right to essential things a modern country should have, maybe like clean, drinking water, electricity, etc. The other context is cash grant in rich economies. The fact that those countries are rich with immense achievements in every area of life, then money distribution by the state is easily doable.
A Third World country like Guyana cannot go that route for decades to come. I am typing this article at 10PM on Sunday night after waiting for electricity to return after four hours of blackout. Annual cash transfer at 5000 American dollars to each poor household would cost the state one billion American dollars each year. If that money is put into GPL, our electricity woes are over and our goods become cheaper than foreign ones.
Electricity cost is a destructive element in local manufacturing. There is an ice-cream coming from Suriname and the Dominican Republic that is $1000 cheaper than the local ice-cream. Let me repeat – $1000 cheaper. One billion American dollars transferred to UG means that UG can hire top class talent and have a top class library with all the latest modern technology.
In Guyana, almost all the roads and streets are sandwiched between trenches and gutters. What happens is erosion is natural and it occurs frequently in this country. Some major streets are literally sinking. One of which is Thomas Road which is one of the main roadways that serves the army. Last week, they just repaired a section of it.
To stop that erosion, those streets and roads throughout Guyana need revetment. A billion American dollars would complete that task quite easily. A billion American dollars in one year can bring top schools to the countryside that so badly need them. This is where a poor country has to put its money. Cash grants are basic and should be basic in any poor country. There are single mothers who need it. There are people living in terrible squatter houses. They need it. The state cannot distribute money freely to countless people in a poor country. That not only lacks commonsense. It is horrific insanity.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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