Guyana Should Adopt Alaska’s Permanent Fund Policy

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Exxon Mobil Guyana.
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By NAN Editorial Board

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Tues. Jan. 28, 2020: On Monday, January 27, 2020, ExxonMobil upped its estimate of recoverable crude in the South American nation of Guyana to more than 8 billion barrels. That’s up from about 6 billion after the company said it discovered its 16th deep water Guyanese discovery since it first struck oil there in May 2015. So what will that mean for the less than 800,000 Guyanese living there?

Math 101 puts this at around 10,000 barrels of crude oil per every Guyanese national living in the 83,000 square mile country, or in today’s market, that’s over USD 500,000 per person.

Of course that number can increase dramatically as Exxon itself admits that there is still potential for growth and the 8 billion barrel estimate only includes 15 discoveries made through 2019 and does not include the latest discovery.

Which means that profit margin will undoubtedly increase and it is why that in a country of less than 1 million, every single Guyanese national should benefit directly from this.

This brings us to the case of Alaska and its Permanent Fund, which pays up to USD 2,000 monthly to everyone living in the state – which like Guyana, is home to around 800,000 people.

The Alaska Permanent Fund was established in 1976 and since 1980, managed by a state-owned corporation, the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation (APFC). The fund is funded by oil revenues from Alaska’s North Slope that began flowing to market through the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System. The fund manages the money and pays a dividend to everyone who has lived in Alaska for one year, is not a convicted felon and has also been present in Alaska for at least 190 days in a calendar year.

This financial incentive is certainly helpful for making other financial goals – like establishing an emergency fund, saving for a home down payment or setting aside money for retirement. And while it is taxable, Alaska as a state has no state tax.

This is what the leaders of Guyana must put in place to ensure the new found wealth is not merely shipped out and then ends up in the hands of a few – but can flow down to ensure growth for all Guyanese who have spent years struggling economically and being mocked at and ill-treated by some of its own neighbors.

This is an easily adopted vision plan for the new government coming into power after the March 2, 2020 elections. It’s time for the Guyana Permanent Fund Policy – so all Guyanese – and not some – can benefit from the country’s new found riches.

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