Home African Caribbean Transforming Guyana Season II Episode I. Can A Universal Basic Income Scheme Work In Guyana?

Transforming Guyana Season II Episode I. Can A Universal Basic Income Scheme Work In Guyana?

by Dr Terrence Blackman
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 The Guyana Business Journal and the Caribbean Policy Consortium recently premiered Season II, Episode I of their webinar series, “Transforming Guyana.” This episode delved into the critical topic of revenue sharing in Guyana’s emerging oil and gas economy. The insightful discussions featured Prof. Roger Hosein, Dr. Remi Piet, and Dr. Riyad Insanally, who provided valuable perspectives on revenue-sharing methods, regional experiences, and the challenges and considerations of implementing a universal basic income (UBI) scheme in Guyana.

Dr. Remi Piet, an experienced economist in sustainable development with a global perspective, provided valuable insights applicable to Guyana’s evolving oil and gas industry and shed light on revenue-sharing best practices worldwide. Dr. Piet explained the diverse revenue-sharing approaches, including royalties, taxation, production-sharing contracts, and community development agreements, and stressed the importance of long-term partnerships, robust institutional frameworks, and transparent processes to ensure equitable wealth distribution and economic diversity.

Prof. Roger Hosein, a renowned international economist based at the University of the West Indies (UWI) St. Augustine campus, with expertise in international trade, shared regional insights drawn from Trinidad and Tobago’s Oil and Gas experience. While acknowledging the challenges in Guyana’s oil and gas sector, Prof. Hosein remained optimistic about Guyana’s future, even as he highlighted the country’s less-than-stellar transparency and ease of doing business rankings. He emphasized the need for careful labor market development, addressing production and trade structures, and balancing skilled and unskilled labor. Prof. Hosein, noting a missed opportunity for Trinidad and Tobago, emphasized the significance of Guyana’s Natural Resources Fund, called for efforts to strengthen the non-energy export sector, and underscored the importance of vigilant monitoring of Guyana’s socio-economic indices.

Prof. Hosein’s discourse on Cash Grants provides an insightful perspective on implementing a Universal Basic Income (UBI) scheme in Guyana, a diverse, developing, and oil-rich nation. He underscored the ethnic divisions and historical disparities in Guyana, emphasizing that a UBI scheme’s design and implementation should prioritize social cohesion and address longstanding inequalities to carefully manage equity and fairness concerns among various ethnic and racial communities. He argued that robust governance mechanisms are crucial to UBI scheme implementation, ensuring transparency, accountability, and efficient administration.

The necessity for clear eligibility criteria, fair distribution mechanisms, and effective monitoring systems was also underlined to mitigate potential corruption, nepotism, or favoritism. Moreover, the fiscal sustainability of the UBI scheme must be cautiously evaluated by identifying suitable funding sources, considering the population size, cost of living, and fiscal capacity. Balancing income support and economic realities is pivotal to prevent overstraining the state budget or triggering inflationary pressures.

The substantial revenue generated from natural resources, particularly oil, presents a significant management challenge. In a diverse society like Guyana, garnering public support and acceptance for a Universal Basic Income (UBI) scheme necessitates strategic engagement with stakeholders, comprehensive public consultations, and heightened awareness about UBI’s long-term societal and economic benefits.

Allocating these resources via the design and implementation of a UBI scheme should be pursued only if Guyana can ensure its long-term sustainability. Averting dependency on fluctuating oil prices and confronting misconceptions to foster understanding and consensus among Guyana’s diverse ethnic and racial communities are vital. This proactive strategy constitutes a pivotal first step towards achieving acceptance and facilitating the effective implementation of a UBI scheme in Guyana.

Tash Van Doimen was born and raised in Georgetown, Guyana. She holds a master’s degree in development policy from the KDI School of Public Policy and Management with a double major in International and Sustainable Development. She used this opportunity to examine Guyana’s oil industry and the nexus between economic development and environmental implications. Ms. Van Doimen began her journalism career, covering hard news and featured articles. In 2015, the Theatre Guild awarded her for ‘Consistent Coverage of the Arts in the Media.’ The same year, Ms. Van Doimen began her career as a Foreign Service Officer, representing Guyana on multiple forums and speaking on various issues aligned with Guyana’s Foreign Policy.

Dr Terrence Blackman
Dr Terrence Blackman

Dr. Terrence Richard Blackman is a member of the Guyanese diaspora. He is an associate professor of mathematics and a founding member of the Undergraduate Program in Mathematics at Medgar Evers College. He is a former Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Professor at MIT and a member of The School of Mathematics at The Institute for Advanced Study. He previously served as Chair of the Mathematics Department and Dean of the School of Science Health and Technology at Medgar Evers College, where he has worked for more than twenty-five years. He graduated from Queen’s College, Guyana, Brooklyn College, CUNY, and the City University of New York Graduate School.


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