“APNU is not against cash grants” from oil revenues but more information needed – Granger

— WPA ready to negotiate modified proposal

President David Granger

President David Granger on Wednesday sought to dispel concerns that he is opposed to direct cash transfer of some oil revenues to Guyanese, even as the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) signaled that it was ready to modify its proposal with other political parties in A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) whenever those talks begin.

“There has been a lot of speculation and we ask that people put figures to their intention before we make any public discussion but the APNU is not against cash grants. It needs to know more so it can make a proper announcement to the people of Guyana,” the President said.             

He said the details on the WPA’s proposal have not been worked out, but “the other partners are not against cash grants but we asked for more information on the details as to who’ll be eligible and how it will be disbursed. “It is not a question of refusal or any conflict. It’s a question of operationalising of that element of what is going to be part of the Sovereign Wealth Fund,” he said.

WPA executive member, Tacuma Ogunseye had publicly challenged Granger to state his position definitively on direct cash transfers after the Guyanese leader had said he had favoured the delivery of high quality free education over handouts.

Granger said the WPA has been asked to provide more information to its coalition partners about its idea of direct cash transfers to Guyanese households with the aim of finding the right balance, but WPA executive member, David Hinds said Wednesday that that more than one-year old request was hinged on a meeting for a presentation to be made but that meeting was never called.

“We need to decide how much will be coming and the profits must be shared with other national needs – infrastructure, other forms of social development, agriculture development and so on – so we don’t know how much we’re getting so we’re asking our partners to address their minds to how much needs to be spent and for what purpose and to whom,” the President said.

Hinds told Demerara Waves Online News/News-Talk Radio Guyana that more than one year ago, shortly after WPA executive member, Distinguished Economics Professor Clive Thomas had floated the idea of giving US$5,000 per household annually, the APNU leadership committee had asked the WPA for a proposal/presentation but no meeting had been set to facilitate that presentation. “Since then they accepted it in principle then walked back on it then belatedly included it in the statement of principles. The latter was accepted by the AFC (Alliance For Change),” Hinds said.

Professor David Hinds

Hinds said the WPA was open to finding consensus in modifying its proposal in negotiations since his party was not rigid on its disbursement model, pegged largely to 10 percent of net earnings of US$1.5 billion to US$2 billion annually if oil is US$70 per barrel. “We proposed the universal model of all households so as not to leave out any vulnerable group. But that is not written in stone. We can figure out the best target group that captures most if not all of the poor,” Hinds said.

The opposition People’s Progressive Party’s General Secretary, Bharrat Jagdeo has since virtually endorsed the WPA model in principle but believed the disbursements should be targeted towards vulnerable groups. Hinds is on record as warning that the governing coalition of which the WPA is a member can lose next year’s general elections if it does not include cash transfers in its campaign manifesto.

Finance Minister, Winston Jordan on Wednesday restated his personal objection to wide-scale direct cash-transfers to all Guyanese households. “I’m against people staying home and receiving a cheque in the mail,” he said. Like Jagdeo, Jordan favours giving more cash to vulnerable groups and creating jobs. “It is for me easier to take that money and create jobs for the same people out of tax than just giving them, hoping they will create it themselves,” he said.

Finance Minister, Winston Jordan.

Jordan said he was open to hearing the views of others on the thorny issue of conditional cash transfers and arrive at a common position “that the coalition can run with”. “Right now, different factions in the coalition, different people in the coalition have different ideas… at the table and without people being called ‘ignars’ and idiots and thrash out it there and I could say I am in total agreement with the President that education is the key to bringing people out of poverty,” he said. The Finance Minister said old age pensions based on a means test, and measly retirement pensions should be increased.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the National Toshaos Council (NTC), Nicholas Fredericks has called for special provisions to be made in the Sovereign Wealth Fund for indigenous peoples. He told Demerara Waves Online News/News-Talk Radio Guyana that is key to ensure they benefit from oil revenues when commercial oil production begins in another few months.

“As part of the drive to maximise the benefits of the oil programme, I think the Sovereign Wealth Fund is a very important fund. It needs to have like an indigenous (peoples) component where communities can have access to this kind of funding, develop their proposals and once it is in line with the community sustainable development access, that funding could implement projects,” he said.

Fredericks emphasized the need for government to meet with Amerindian villages to devise possible projects for their local economies. “Have a discussion with the indigenous peoples so that we can develop a financial mechanism, particularly to push the village economies because if villages could have more programmes that are in line with environmental maintenance, Guyana stands to benefit hugely from the maintenance of our forestry through these projects that can be implemented from the oil money for our indigenous peoples,” he said.

Guyana is expected to begin commercial oil production early next year during which oil revenues are projected at US$300 million.

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Comments

  • kamtanblog  On 10/10/2019 at 11:00 am

    Absolute speculation.
    Where is Trinidad’s oil wealth today ?
    Swiss London banks.
    Money launderers of the western world.
    Is Guyana to become a “welfare state” ?

    Jobs …sustainable jobs …is what it needs.
    Full employment in private/public parthnerships.
    USA now has one of the lowest employment rates …google FMI.
    And so does most of the “developed”
    world. UK now offers “minimum wage”
    but fighting for “liveable wage” …
    No reason why Guyana can not afford to
    pass legislation demanding a liveable wage.

    Qatar per capita income is over $105.000
    PA…one of the highest for any oil producing nation state of just over 3m people.

    Yes Guyana will attract similar overseas
    skills in its development but it will need
    strong leadership and new laws/legislation
    to address the issues.

    Early days

    Kamtan

  • guyaneseonline  On 10/11/2019 at 1:04 am

    MOTP calls for an immediate retraction of false Kaieteur News article – article designed to spread misinformation

    The Ministry of the Presidency says that it condemns the deliberately false and misleading Kaieteur News article headlined, “No cash transfers in the absence of detailed studies – President Granger” and is calling for an immediate retraction.
    The article, published in the October 10, 2019 edition of the paper, deliberately perverts President David Granger’s responses to questions posed to him by Senior Journalist, Ms. Julia Johnson, in the margins of an accreditation ceremony hosted, yesterday, at the Ministry of the Presidency, the Ministry said. ( See News article below)
    At no time did President Granger say that cash transfers (from oil revenues) to citizens, were dependent on detailed studies, it added.
    “The President said the Working People’s Alliance made a proposal, but no details had been worked out.
    The content of that interview is printed, verbatim, below:
    Ms. Johnson: “Just a clarification on the cash grant. There seems to be a ‘for and against’ that proposal, where does that take you?”
    President Granger: “There is no ‘for and against’. The proposal has been made by the Working People’s Alliance, but we have not worked out the details. We…the other partners, are not against cash grants but we asked for more information …details on who will be eligible; how it will be disbursed. So it will not be a question of refusal or any conflict, it is a question of the operationalising of that element of what is going to be part of the Sovereign Wealth Fund.
    “I made public announcements about the role of education and that is uncontroversial. I think all the parties, even the Opposition party has accepted that education has to be given a key role in the disbursements from the Sovereign Wealth Fund or the Natural Resources Fund. So, among the partners, there are no major disagreements.”
    The President also said: “As part of the proposal for the review of the Cummingsburg Accord, we included some of the items which we hope will find a way into the manifesto. So I would say that we are still in discussion with the AFC and my expectation is that during the course of this month, we will move further along to reaching a solution to any other difficulty we may have, but right now the discussions are going on pretty smoothly.”
    Ms. Johnson then asked: “Mr. President just going back to the cash grant issue. Would some of the queries or clarifications that you are seeking from the other parties…would it be how to identify those beneficiaries because previously, and looking at when we had the flood in 2015, there was this Government’s plan to compensate all those who were affected and then …and many people who were affected were not compensated? So, I am asking you whether the framework or the queries you’re seeking would be who these beneficiaries would be and how to find them or chose them [or] select them?”
    In response, President Granger said, “Right now, we are eating the cake before we [get] it. We need to decide how much will be coming and the profits must be shared with other national needs, you know infrastructure, social development, agricultural development and so on. So, we don’t know how much we are getting; we are asking our partners to address their minds to how much needs to be spent and for what purpose and to whom. I agree with you there is a question of national and natural disasters… We are now in the stage of planning and it is not necessarily the best thing to conduct this debate before the plan has been made. There has been a lot of speculation and we ask that people put figures to their intentions before we make any public discussion, but the APNU is not against cash grants. It needs to know more before it can make a proper announcement to the people of Guyana”.
    The Ministry, therefore, contends that the article is inaccurate and does not reflect the Head of State’s true statements.
    It is, therefore, calling on the Kaieteur News to immediately retract the inaccurate article and to publicize the accurate statements made by the Head of State.
    The Ministry said that it further encourages members of the media corps to hold fast to the principles of sound journalism and to desist from publishing false information.
    The Ministry is also urging all right-thinking Guyanese to review the interview between the Head of State and the Journalist for themselves and not to be misled by misinformation designed to manipulate them and create mischief in the society.
    ——————————————————————–
    News Article published on October 10, 2019 in Kaieteur News
    No cash transfers in the absence of detailed studies- President Granger
    Oct 10, 2019 KNews News

    The Coalition Government is cautious about committing to introduce any programmes that will see citizens receiving cash transfers from oil proceeds. In a few months time, ExxonMobil will start..
    That will be Guyana’s first commercial production.
    The situation has Guyana nervous with debates ongoing on the state of readiness and over local content and other issues.
    Several months ago, Professor Clive Thomas of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), suggested, during a forum, cash transfers for citizens.
    However, the suggestion was brushed aside initially.
    In recent times, however, the WPA has been ramping up the issue.
    Last week, Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr. Karen Cummings, made it clear that education was an area that the Coalition Government was concentrating on.
    She said that President David Granger and Government have a preference to teach citizens to “fish” rather than giving them the “fish” as handouts.
    Yesterday, speaking to reporters, Granger acknowledged that the issue would have seen some endorsement from the Coalition partners.
    Granger said that he is not “for” or “against” at this time.
    “The proposal has been made by the Working People’s Alliance, but we have not worked out the details. The other partners are not against cash grants but we asked for more information and details about who will be eligible and how it will be disbursed.”

    • kamtanblog  On 10/11/2019 at 3:26 am

      Suggestion ..
      Rather than one off welfare payments or
      continuous “dole” monies (welfare payments)
      paid community services is another option
      to be considered. Criminals in UK have
      to perform community services as part of
      their sentences. Am sure there are many
      community services jobs to be performed
      and or created.
      Throwing money at eliminating poverty
      can prove to be counterproductive…
      petrol onto fire 🔥
      We also have food banks where hungry
      and destitute people can go to collect
      food. Homes for the homeless, soup kitchens
      where meals are served for the hungry.
      It is 2019 not 1919 UKPLC.

      Just some ideas/suggestions for consideration.
      And yes “free education” for all ages.
      Free medical for all…NHS (a National
      health service)
      It’s not rocket science

      Where there is a will there is a way

      Kamtan

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