Focus of oil money should be on education, health than on a cheque – U.S. Ambassador

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The discussion of what to do with the country’s oil revenues should be focused more on developing key social sectors and improving security rather than on a cash handout to citizens, U.S. Ambassador Perry Holloway Monday night suggested.

“…I think the more important conversation should be about not giving every citizen a cheque, but giving every citizen a quality education, giving every citizen quality health care, a secure environment in which to live and work,” the US Ambassador told reporters on the sidelines of the launch of the American Chambers of Commerce in Guyana (AmCham) at the Marriott Hotel, Kingston in Georgetown.

“…I think if you do all of those things with the revenue that petroleum generates, everyone will make plenty of money and be very prosperous.”

The Ambassador’s comments come on the heels of a suggestion by economist Dr Clive Thomas that there be cash handouts to citizens; the idea has been supported by two of the parties in the six-party coalition that forms the current Government. These are the Alliance For Change (AFC) and the Working People’s Alliance (WPA).

President David Granger has said that no evidence has been presented him to suggest that such an idea would is plausible.

Holloway, who ends his term of office this year, said the focus should be more on the things the Government can do to provide the people of Guyana, especially giving the young people the skills and knowledge that they need to be successful.

But he did not rule out completely the idea of the direct cash transfers, noting that it has been successfully implemented in some territories. Ambassador Holloway cautioned, however, that some countries have been unsuccessful.

“I would say it’s not [the] norm (cash handouts) but there have been countries in the world that have tried it, some better than others,” Ambassador Holloway stated.

He noted that, at the end of the day, the Government should consider all options and seek expert opinions in determining what is best for the people of Guyana.

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo had also expressed a preference for the oil revenues – which will be flowing in two years – to be invested in jobs and education.

At his last press conference, the former president explained that while he is not entirely against the suggestion made by Dr Thomas, there are risks involved in keeping the commitment of cash handouts.

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