Jun 25, 2022 Letters
I refer to the former Minister of Finance Winston Jordan’s letter published in Stabroek News, Monday, June 20, 2022 edition under the caption, ” Pending a study,100,000 of the poorest households should be targeted for annual cash transfer of US$1,000″. His letter is a response to my letter SN Saturday, June 18, 2022, “Had Mr. Jordan done the responsible thing in dealing with the Buxton Proposal, he would still be Finance Minister.”
I also want to join with Jordan in recommending readers to access his discussion on KAMS TV Programme Buxton Morning Show, not only for clarity on our controversy but for its usefulness on other matters he addressed.
In my letter, I said that my main concern was with the political culture demonstrated in Jordan’s approach to his discussions on the Buxton Proposal (BP). I never challenged his right to be critical of BP or to promote his alternative proposal. Of the ten issues I raised in my previous letter, Jordan only addressed two. Much of his efforts were on non-relevant issues.
Jordan’s political culture, the primary concern of my previous letter, was again demonstrated in his response. Diverting from the relevant issues to point out that the term “Buxton Proposal” has historical roots in the PNC and more specifically from the late minister Deryck Bernard, Jordan wrote, “Incidentally, the name of the proposal is not original.
It was former Central Executive member of the PNCR Deryck Bernard, who, at his Party’s Press Conference on October 26, 2002, mentioned a Buxton Proposal – a $250 million revival initiative for the Buxton area that was put to the then PPP/C government.” Readers will note that Bernard’s proposal has nothing to do with oil revenues. Yet Jordan evokes it in his response. The simple motivation was to fight the masses association of the Buxton Proposal with the WPA. Petty politics! Neither the WPA nor Clive Thomas ever claimed original ownership of the concept of “universal cash transfers.” This has been a tool in the international space for decades. Jordan continued, “I do not know if Dr. Thomas discussed his proposal with other members of the Coalition before he made his announcement. It is reasonable to expect that, making such a profound statement, with its potential to bind the Coalition to its implementation, should have the subject of intense discussions and agreement before it was made public.”
In this statement, he wants the WPA to give up its right to express independent policies in a context where the party has publicly raised its concerns of decision-making in the APNU and the coalition, that is, about the lack of consultation with member parties. Based on Jordan’s stated standards for policy advocacy, I asked if any of the national budgets he piloted in the parliament had the kind of discussion in the coalition he suggests. The WPA Buxton Proposal would have been subject to discussion before going public. This is why I promised in my earlier response to Jordan’s approach to the BP on political culture. He points to Jagdeo’s criticism/rejection of the BP giving prominence to the then opposition leader who naturally sought to reject the proposal. Again, he maintained silence on President David Granger’s position on the matter that was more important to the coalition’s acceptance of the WPA proposal than Jagdeo’s rejection. On this matter, Jordan is unwilling, understandably, to indict his leader. This weakness is a matter of political culture and amounts to unquestionable support for the maximum leader whether he is right or wrong.
“…What caused Mr. Ogunseye to launch his broadside at me?” My answer: because Jordan did what was done by Granger and the detractors of the Buxton Proposal, to sow seeds of confusion and his failure to seek clarification on the BP from WPA/Thomas while you were the Finance Minister. Instead of conceding his shortsightedness, and engaging in self-criticism or showing remorse, he continues in your old ways. Jordan inquired, “Was it the occasion for him to air his disgust at the alleged treatment of the WPA that led to their departure from the Coalition?” Here again, Jordan is being deceptive in pretending not to know that I have, on numerous occasions, publicly expressed my concerns about Granger’s stewardship of the APNU and the coalition. Jordan continued, “If Ogunseye is interested in how the Cabinet operated, he should discuss it with the WPA member who was part of that set-up.” Respectfully, Jordan has to be a political dreamer to pose this to me.
In getting to the closure of this response, I make the following statements: (1) the WPA never claimed to be the creators of the idea of cash transfers or universal cash transfers since these have been international tools for many years. We never claimed to be the first to suggest oil revenues be used for cash transfers. But the record will show that in the context of Guyana’s known oil/gas resources, Clive Thomas and the WPA put forward a developed proposal for universal cash transfers of US$ 5,000 to all Guyanese households, based on the use of 10% of oil revenues.
This was due to Thomas’s professional assessment of the country’s potential resources in oil/gas when others were predicting that those resources were not significant. (2) The much-touted criticism that in the initial proposal, the WPA did not state at what point in the production process the US$ 5,000 was be implemented is nonsense. Since the proposal called for 10% of oil revenues implicit logic suggests that the US$5,000 can only be paid when revenues permit. In all seriousness, I don’t know that in proposing a national policy, the WPA or any entity or individual have to present a full proof document given that the final policy has to come out of nationwide discussions.
(3) We have never been opposed to the stage-by-stage implementation of the proposal to reach its maximum once that is what the Guyanese nation wants. (4) We stand committed to fighting for the implementation of our universal cash transfers to all Guyanese households with the maximum of US$5,000. (5) We will fight for 10% of oil revenues beginning from the first year of oil to be put in a fund for Buxton Proposal, pending implementation. It is public knowledge that any national policy like the BP cannot be implemented immediately since it requires a struggle for government and the nation’s acceptance. At that point, we can dot the I’s and cross the T’s. As I indicated, it was President Granger’s hostility to the proposal (because it came from the WPA) that derailed it. Mr. Jordan should say to the best of his knowledge if the idea of universal cash transfers to households was part of the discussions on the coalition election platform. And if not why? I promised my response to Jordan’s KAMS TV utterances on the BP to political culture. Hopefully, I have made my point.
My final comment: the struggle for the Buxton Proposal is a struggle for the soul of the country and the support of struggling Guyanese households. Our people deserve nothing less.
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