Jagdeo prefers oil money invested in education, jobs


As the Government mulls various ways to spend oil revenue to ensure that it benefits the population, Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday suggested “conditional transfers.”

While he is not entirely against the suggestion made by Professor Clive Thomas for cash payouts to be made to households, the Opposition Leader said there is a possibility that the Government will be unable to upkeep such a commitment.

“What is it when oil prices collapse for long periods like what happened in some countries and people already think they’ll get this money all the time?” Jagdeo questioned at a news conference Thursday.

Jagdeo suggested investments in education and job employment and made reference to the Women of Worth (WOW) programme implemented by the former People’s Progressive Party’s administration through a $50M partnership with the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI) to provide interest-free loans to single mothers.

“Why not put the money into paying for scholarships? Take $100M or $50M and put it to help our kids who do well to go to the best Universities around the world and upgrade our University to a top-notch University with a global standard like bringing in new lecturers, etc, that sort of thing will help us in the long run,” the Opposition Leader said.

Dr Clive Thomas, an economist, and WPA Member, had proposed that each “poor” household receive US$5000 (G$1 million) of the oil revenues on a yearly basis.

His suggestion sparked a national conversation on the spending of oil revenues which was welcomed by both the Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan and Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman.

While the Opposition Leader said he is not against people expecting more, he has a “huge problem with our government misleading.”

“We need to explore every single thing, providing that they uplift our people, create more jobs, give them an improvement in their lives, get them out of poverty, we have to keep an open mind but it must be affordable too,” Jagdeo added.

He is of the view that such disbursements would not be affordable alongside the many projects that the Government is depending on the oil profits to complete.

President David Granger also commented on the matter on Thursday where he noted that he has received no formal proposal on the matter and is unaware of its evidential basis. He added that the proposal is also not included in the recommendations for the Natural Resources fund.

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