AFC calls for greater scrutiny in distribution of cash grants

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

The Alliance For Change (AFC) – the minority party in the coalition Opposition – has called for greater scrutiny to be employed in the disbursement of the various cash grant initiatives by the Government.

At its weekly press conference on Friday, Alliance For Change Chairwoman, Cathy Hughes posited that there needs to be a more structured way in which the various cash grants are distributed.

“We have mechanisms by which everybody [in the public sector] is paid every month… and what we’re saying is use the Government’s apparatus to distribute funds other than having PPP operatives or individuals going into communities and determine who gets and who doesn’t get with a criteria that is not absolutely fair. And we take that position because you would recall the amount of persons who got pink slips that are still holding pink slips today,” Hughes contended.

Meanwhile, AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan further called for the names of the beneficiaries of these cash transfers to be publicised in order to allow for greater scrutiny.

“We demanded from the very beginning that if there be cash transfers that are necessary that the names and addresses of those that are beneficiaries of such cash grants be put up on the website of the relevant Ministry that is doing the transfers. So, if it is the Ministry of Agriculture via fisherfolks that will be getting 150,000 or let’s say the same Ministry of Agriculture with those [former GuySuCo workers] who got the second severance payment package from that Ministry then put the names of all these people on those websites. That is transparency and accountability, it is not being done,” he posited.

Ramjattan went on to outline that there needs to be a streamlined or structured rationale behind all of these cash transfers the Government is giving out. He said there needs to be an analysis to ascertain why they are being distributed, why to a specific group and how the amount is determined.

This position by the AFC comes on the heels of President Dr Irfaan Ali on Thursday announcing a one-off cash grant of $28,000 to all old age pensioners across the country.While the AFC welcomed the initiative, Hughes insisted that a much more standard increase for pensioners should be undertaken.

“We think that the most fool-proof way of increasing funds to pensioners is by actually increasing the pension rate. That way, it automatically goes into a system that is monitored not only at a parliamentary level but is audited in several different areas. So, increase the pensions’ rate at the baseline – not at a one-off for us to hear at a later date that this body didn’t get, this body got and all the different challenges that have been faced with the previous cash grants disbursements,” the party Chairwoman noted.

She argued that it is unacceptable that with the windfall Guyana has received from oil revenues that persons over 65 years in the country only receive a $28,000 pension to live on for an entire month.

The AFC Chairwoman is of the view that given the high increase in cost of living over the past year, a liveable pension between $75,000 to $100,000 would be fair to this group of citizens.

The $28,000 cash grant announced on Thursday, is the second one-off transfer to pensioners by the PPP/C Government, which has also increased old age pension from $20,500 to $28,000 over its two years in office.

Additionally, the Ali-led Administration has also restored the “Because We Care” cash grants to students and implemented new cash transfers to groups such as persons with disabilities, displaced sugar workers, fisherfolk, households across Guyana and a special grant for hinterland and riverine households, among others

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