Jagdeo, Norton tussle over “structured” cash grants

Last Updated on Saturday, 3 June 2023, 17:50 by Denis Chabrol

Mr. Aubrey Norton Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo

Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo has dismissed Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton’s call for each Guyanese household to be provided US$5,000 every year from the oil revenues.

By Mr Jagdeo’s estimates, that would cost US$1.7 billion. “Now, since we started producing oil, we have not received $1.7 billion as yet but he wants to give out $1.7 billion a year. That is APNU’s (A Partnership for National Unity) economics and we don’t need to go back there because we know of the ineptitude.

Official records from the Natural Resource Fund Quarterly Report shows that from March, 202o to March, 2023 Guyana earned US$2,238,911,325.40 from profit oil and royalties from both Liza 1 and Liza 2, with US$1,217,694,252.37 coming from Liza 1, US$743,552,864.56 from Liza 2 and US$277,664,208.47 in royalties.

The Opposition Leader recommended that “at present $1 million dollars can be handed to households” in a structured, transparent, accountable and not politicised. “We make it very clear that these one-off cash grants cannot solve the problems of poverty and we will change the approach and ensure we put resources directly in the hands of our people and at the same time ensure that there is transparency and accountability,” he said at this week’s news conference.

Cash-handouts from oil revenues was first floated by Distinguished Economics Professor Clive Thomas in August 2018 at a forum in Buxton village, East Coast Demerara. But then Finance Minister, Winston Jordan had objected to people staying home and receiving cheques in the mail, and instead had echoed Mr Jagdeo, as Opposition Leader, who had preferred cash-handouts to vulnerable groups.