Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo has noted that the $10,000 per child cash grants are more beneficial than the 3Bs initiative can ever be, as he took another swing at President David Granger for scrapping the project which was launched under the previous administration.
Jagdeo contended that the Head of State, based on his actions, proves that he does not care about children as he “hypocritically” declared during the recent donation of another batch of buses.
At a news conference on Friday, August 25, the Opposition Leader explained that the cash grant project cost some $1.67B yearly and therefore, over the last three years, the government could have invested $5B into the education of the country’s future leaders.
According to the former President, by scrapping the project, the present administration proved its disregard for children, especially when it is pumping millions of taxpayers’ monies into initiatives that are neither urgent nor necessary.
Some of the projects he listed are the repairs to State House and the Office of the Prime Minister, the construction of the giant gate by the Ministry of the Presidency, the 50% salary increase and the newly developed insurance policy for ministers to get medical treatment at the expense of taxpayers’ dollars from as far as Ireland.
Jagdeo also reasoned that government should be financially capable to find $1.67B to continue the cash grant initiative given that it has declared an increase in revenue collection.
“If we could have found the money to do that with lower revenue, why can’t they find the money to do so now with they are arguing that revenue is up,” he stated.
Furthermore, the Opposition Leader said no caring President would make it financially difficult for students to access quality education by imposing taxes on the service offered by private institutions.
“Imagine a Head of State with a straight face tells a crowd of people that he cares about their children when simultaneously his government put a tax on private education and educational materials for all school children from which they were exempted for many, many years because the People’s Progressive Party never had a tax on education,” he reasoned.
Jagdeo also argued that a government which threatens to ban graduates of the University of Guyana from leaving the country pending the repayment of their student loans is not a government that cares about children and their education.
The “Because We Care” cash grant programme was launched in 2014 and was spearheaded by then Minister of Education Priya Manickchand. The programme was intended to give parents $10,000 per child as an allowance to purchase the necessary items needed to send their children to school.”
The programme was discontinued in 2015, with the coalition administration claiming that the previous government had planned to terminate the initiative after the elections. Manickchand had denied those claims and advocated for the reinstatement of the programme.
The 3Bs initiative, on the other hand, sees the donation of boats, buses and bicycles to communities across the country to transport children to and from schools.