Guyanese benefited from more cash transfers than other Caribbean countries – World Bank report

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Households in Guyana have received social transfers to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and a new World Bank report has found that the cash transfers provided in Guyana were more than several other Caribbean countries.

For context, social transfers (also called social benefits) are some form of assistance, either in cash or in-kind, provided to individuals or households; these are provided to ease any financial burden faced

The new report from the World Bank and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is named: “An Uneven Recovery: The impact of COVID-19 on Latin America and the Caribbean.”

Based on data collected by the World Bank, there were varying levels of such regular and emergency transfers from governments in the countries studied. The lowest level of cash transfers was recorded in Haiti (some three per cent of households benefited) while the highest was recorded in El Salvador (nearly 80 per cent of households benefited).

Importantly, the World Bank noted that nearly 80 per cent of households in Guyana also benefited from either regular or emergency cash transfers.  This was the third-highest government transfer in the group of countries studied.

Notably, this was also the highest among the Caribbean countries studied. The other Caribbean countries studied include: Haiti, Dominica, St. Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica, Belize and the Dominican Republic.

Information provided by the Bank, however, illustrated that more households benefited from the emergency cash transfers than households that benefitted from regular transfers. These regular transfers include old-age pension and public assistance payments.

It is unclear if the Bank’s report also reflects all of the social (cash) transfers made by the Government of the Guyana, including the more recent $2.6 billion in relief for some vulnerable groups. This relief includes one-off grants to old-age pensioners and public assistance recipients, in addition to the electricity credit for some households.

Previous cash transfers provided during the COVID-19 pandemic include the provision of a $25,000 COVID-19 relief cash grant to households, the ‘Because We Care’ education grant and the varied flood assistance to farmers and households.

The World Bank survey was conducted in 24 countries in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region. It used a representative sample of the population aged 18 years and older, with access to a telephone in each country.

Importantly, too, the report noted that despite these governmental attempts to counter the “economic turmoil” prompted by the pandemic, hardships have persisted.

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