Last Updated on Sunday, 1 August 2021, 8:06 by Denis Chabrol
The Working People’s Alliance (WPA) on the occasion of African Emancipation Day 2021 being observed on Sunday called for fair distribution of Guyana’s oil wealth including direct cash transfers to all Guyanese.
The now main opposition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC), of which the WPA had been a member, had rejected the WPA’s idea of direct transfer of oil money to all Guyanese, but now that party has vowed to ensure that this happens. “We have to stress that the oil wealth, however depleted, must be equitably distributed among all groups. For us in the WPA this is non-negotiable, and we are prepared to fight tooth and nail for this outcome,” the party said.
Some estimates are that Guyana could earn as much as US$3 billion annually by 2025 from oil fields in the prolific Stabroek Block offshore.
The now governing People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) has also poured cold water on universal cash transfers from oil revenues, saying that already there are direct cash transfer schemes.
President Irfaan Ali, in his Emancipation Day 2021 message, sought to assure African Guyanese and indeed all Guyanese that they all would benefit from Guyana’s wealth. “As we look to the future on this anniversary of Emancipation, I assure you, our African-Guyanese brothers and sisters, that you will not be excluded from or left behind in Guyana’s national development. Every citizen will benefit from the opportunities which are being unlocked. We want every Guyanese to be part of this development, sharing in its transformation and in its resultant benefits,” he said.
The WPA reasoned that the oil economy would not liberate Guyanese from poverty and so correct ethnic inequities. In that regard, that once vibrant political party that had vigorously opposed the Forbes Burnham-led People’s National Congress administration in the 1980s on the streets, called on African Guyanese to back its demand for a universal cash transfer system for all Guyanese to be put in place for the benefit of all Guyanese.
“WPA is committed to fighting for all ethnic groups, especially the down-pressed. That’s why we put on the national agenda the Universal Cash Transfer as a policy that discriminates against no one ethnic group. On this Emancipation anniversary, we urge the African Guyanese community to endorse and advocate for this policy initiative as a democratic way to ensure that all Guyanese directly benefits from our oil wealth,” that party said.
The APNU+AFC, on the eve of the March 2, 2020 general and regional elections, had endorsed oil cash transfers for poor school-age children rather than rich Guyanese.