Can we now have a good life?

first_imgDear Editor,The announcement by Dr Clive Thomas of a grand cash payout of US$5,000, the equivalent of Gy$1 million, sounds like the “good life” is finally here; yes, at last it seems like the present poverty will be a thing of the distant past. That announcement has caused some prominent personalities to write in exhilarating penmanship splashed all across the print and electronic media.Listen to the comment from one politician/trade unionist, “Professor Thomas is on to something…let’s not shy away from conversation on its feasibility.” Another politician has said, “I support cash transfers to Guyanese households”, and the list goes endlessly on.In the first place, let’s take a look at the reaction of President Granger and his Finance Minister to the pronouncements of Dr Thomas. Both gentlemen have expressed shock and disbelief as to what Dr Thomas was talking about. You are speaking about the Economic Advisor to the President making certain pronouncements and the President and Finance Minister showing total ignorance as to what he was talking about.So, if the movers and shakers of the economy can show such disparaging reactions to the same issue, what do you expect to happen when real dollars kick in? The answer: total chaos and confusion. In the end, corruption will flourish while the fortunes of the poor plummet.From experience, raw cash handouts do not work, they just add to one’s economic woes. You just have to take a look at Trinidad and learn from their experiences when their oil revenues came on stream. Trinidad instituted a direct cash transfer in a programme called C.O.L.A (cost of living allowance). C.O.L.A lent credence to a spending spree never before seen in the history of the poor in Trinidad. The poor in particular spent on things for this present frivolities while things permanent and essential were left undone; so when oil prices dipped, fortunes tumbled for the people whom it was designed to help. The evidence of this squandermania can still be seen in Trinidad today, where the so-called poor live in hovels. Those who took care of the transitory items, like wine, women and song, contrasted against the lasting permanence of those who took care of tomorrow. There is always the danger of hard cash being doled out to “the poor,” because this means there is bound to be a repeat performance of Trinidad.What needs to be done — and this was already in place when the PPP/C was in office — is there must be an admixture of cash handouts plus firm, sustainable, fiscal endowments with a futuristic view in mind; otherwise you are headed for certain failure as a nation. Below is a summary of these:1. Revive or resuscitate the sugar industry, at least 7,000 jobs would be assured. Those that are employed would be providing for their families while the country would be earning valuable foreign earnings as sugar exports rise.2. Encourage foreign companies to invest in our economy as the economy gets a shot in the arm. These areas include forestry, fishing as well as mining.3. Enhance the WOW (Women of Worth Programme, where soft loans would be made available for the start-up of small businesses for our women, especially single mothers.4. Revive the student loans at our tertiary institution, so that our best and brightest minds can be educated and have an equal opportunity as those who can afford a university education.5. Reinstitute the $10,000 per child “Because we care programme.” This programme is twofold in that it is real income for homes, while at the same time ensuring that each child stays in school and receives an education.6. Revive the free social benefits such as free water and electricity for the elderly in our midst.7. Revive the revolving loan agreement and duty free concessions for teachers and other public servants. In this way, more persons would have a place called home as well as their own means of transportation.You would have noticed that most of the points raised above start with the root words “revive”, “reintroduce” and “encourage”, which means that those programmes were there under the previous PPP/C Administration; plans and incentives we hitherto enjoyed and have grown accustomed to. In this regard, I urge this regime to learn a serious lesson, if ever they are to become a success story. But this is all wishful thinking, because from what obtains, people’s development is the least of their concerns.Finally, as we view the experiences of Third World countries, where sovereign wealth has suddenly come on-stream in their economies, let us learn from their mistakes and make our own situation a lasting success.Sincerely,Neil Adamslast_img

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