By: Alexis Rodney
The $4.5 billion set aside by the Government for COVID-19 relief cash grant distribution is finding its way back into the economy.
Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance Hon. Gail Teixeira said while the Government’s initiative is bringing relief to the most vulnerable, it is also strengthening the economy.
“Every time a person gets money, they will spend it. Instead of giving the business community the money, we give the people the money. The people decide how to spend it and that money circulates in the economy, it allows the spending power of the people to be improved, business people to open up and buy more and rehire workers sent off because of Covid,” she told residents of Mahaica Creek, Mahaica-Berbice (Region Five) on Friday.
The Government started the distribution of the $25,000 per family cash grant back in September, to assist people adversely affected by the pandemic. Minister Teixeira said between March and August of this year, more than 5,000 people lost their jobs from the closure of the economy.
While many countries around the world have provided support to their citizens, Guyana is among the few, especially within the Caribbean region, to offer financial assistance.
“We have finished 99 per cent in Region Seven, all the mountainous and riverine areas. We have finished Region Nine and Region One and Eight so, we are moving on to the coast now, with Region Three and Region Five,” the Minister said.
Minister Teixeira explained that the Government started the exercise in the interior regions, since its vastness adds to the challenges there. There are instances, she said, where the closest shop is miles away.
The grant is however, making a significant impact in people’s lives. In Georgetown, a family may use it to pay electricity bill, while in a farming community like those in Region Five, persons may choose to buy things like seeds and pesticide.
“And so, the money is to be used by you for what it can help you out with, and we have to look at how we can turn around the economy,” the Minister said.
Meanwhile, earlier in the month, Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo said the cash grant distribution was moving smoothly, with most of the far-flung regions already receiving their monies.
“The feedback has been good; it has been helping people. It’s a small sum of money, but it has been helpful to a lot of people. And this is a large-scale task to go to every home in the country, especially in this time,” he had told a press conference.
He noted that people living in multiple family homes have been co-operating, and that the ‘pink’ query form arrangement has been working well.