The Devious Exploitation of Cash Grants by Guyana’s PPP Government

In recent days, the people of Guyana witnessed a distressing spectacle outside Freedom House, the headquarters of the ruling PPP/C. Hundreds braved the midday sun, queuing up with hopes of receiving cash grants promised by the government. However, their hopes were dashed as it became apparent that the message was a hoax.

The scene was one of disappointment and frustration as citizens, misled by false promises, left empty-handed. Many were convinced that while they stood in line, cash was indeed being distributed, but only to government cronies. Public Affairs Minister Kwame McCoy attempted to quell the unrest, attributing the misinformation to the opposition and their operatives.

According to McCoy, the only grant program in existence is the Small Business Grant Programme, aimed at supporting small business owners. He clarified that there was no such program at Freedom House and urged citizens not to gather there in anticipation of receiving cash. Despite these assertions, allegations persisted that grants were being selectively dispersed to favored individuals, further fueling public discontent.

This incident exposes the PPP government’s devious tactics in using cash grants as a tool to reward its supporters and punish opposition members. By exploiting the hopes and vulnerabilities of the people, the government seeks to maintain its grip on power by appearing to be benevolent to desperately poor and vulnerable citizens who barely eke out a living from day to day. Additionally, cash grants are one-off expenses that the government can use to garner favor and not have to worry about accruing for in the next budgetary cycle.

While we do appreciate the “because we care” grant which offers $40,000 per child, it serves as a prime example of this manipulation. While presented as a benevolent gesture, it masks the government’s failure to address fundamental issues plaguing the education sector–50%+ dropout rates, rampant illiteracy, and woefully poor assessment results. Instead of investing in meaningful reforms and resources to improve educational outcomes, the government opts for superficial and very public bounty gestures aimed at garnering political support.

Moreover, the lack of transparency and accountability in the distribution of grants–Hinterland grants, Pension grants, Because We Deva grants, Coving grants, Fisherfolk grants… raises serious concerns about financial integrity. Reports of funds being siphoned off for personal gain underscore the urgent need for tighter financial controls and oversight. Further, the PPP should end the practice of lining up and parading desperate people, dehumanizing them in fact, before the grant is given.

Beyond the immediate implications of this Freedom House incident lies a broader danger, when a government begins to conflate party politics with its responsibilities to the nation, as the PPP government often does, it undermines the very foundations of democracy. It was therefore not difficult for citizens to believe that Freedom House would be using government grants to reward their supporters, has PPP had done this many times before.

The PPP’s ‘leadership by cash grant’ approach fosters a culture of dependency and inequality, allowing the government to pick winners and losers at will and without financial accountability. This not only perpetuates poverty but also entrenches the cycle of political patronage and corruption. After 27 years in power, the PPP’s track record is marred by persistent failures in governance and development. The prevalence of illiteracy, lack of access to basic services, and financial exclusion of many citizens are damning indictments of their leadership. The people of Guyana must demand accountability and transparency from their government. Cash grants should be a tool for empowerment, not a means of political manipulation.