Cash transfers from oil revenue can reduce poverty – Dr. Tulsi Dyal Singh
As the debate on direct cash transfers to citizens continue, overseas-based Guyanese businessman, Dr. Tulsi Dyal Singh believes that such a move will help to eradicate poverty.
Speaking during an interview at the Georgetown Club on Saturday morning, Dr. Singh said, “I think that we should have funds going to the people.”
He believes that free tertiary education should be provided but also stated the notion that people will “waste” the money if given to them is “elitist.”
Dr. Singh, who grew up in Palmyra in the county of Berbice in a low-middle income family, said there are many Guyanese living in poverty who will be able to put the monies to good use.
“Growing up in Palmyra, if back then my parents were getting GY$500…it would have saved us a lot of days of going hungry or getting mosquito bitten because the mosquito net was torn,” he told local and international journalists during a series of ongoing discussions on the local petroleum sector.
“I am very much in favour of cash transfers because what’s going to happen, you put in $3.1B in this economy, no matter where it goes, your [standard] of living is going to go up,” Dr. Singh noted.
The direct cash transfer idea was first floated by the Working People’s Alliance (WPA)- a small party in the coalition Government. The Opposition People’s Progressive Party has since said it supports conditional transfers while President David Granger has said no decision will be made without a study.
With the 750,000 barrels of oil per day by 2025 –estimated by ExxonMobil –in a population of 750, 000 people, it was floated that Guyanese can receive US$5,000 per person.
However, Dr. Singh estimated the sum to be US$1,000 per person.
Singh, an ardent contributor to the developments in the Berbice region, lives in Midland, Texas which is sometimes referred to as the Centre of the US oil boom.
He was supported by Geologist, Grantley Walrond who is also a former Chairman of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC).
Walrond noted that this will provide the vulnerable population with an opportunity to improve their circumstances.
Former Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Robert Persaud in a similar interview earlier this week said he does not support direct cash transfers as he believes politicians should find more creative ways to ensure citizens benefit from the oil revenue.
ExxonMobil in August of this year announced that its resource estimate for the Stabroek Block offshore Guyana has increased to over six billion oil-equivalent barrels.
However, Dr. Singh explained that even this sum will increase as technology to recover the resources improve.
“What you mean by recoverable oil is oil that you can recover with today’s technology. Now the oil we are recovering from the Permian basin was not counted ten years ago…because then it wasn’t recoverable,” he noted.
“The recoverable barrels vary from time to time depending on how easy it is to extract…and how economical it is,” Dr. Singh added.
Dr. Singh, who has invested in oil wells in the US, rates Guyana’s future as excellent.