GO HIGH, MR. PRESIDENT


The President’s address to the National Assembly was disappointing. The expectation was that he would use the occasion to announce the Government’s legislative agenda wrapped around policy initiatives for the next parliamentary year. There was a modicum of this. But on the whole it was a political speech, long on political partisanship and short on the solutions to the grave problems facing the nation, which was more appropriate to a political platform. Whoever caused the serious problems facing the Guyanese people, relating to the economy, crime, to name a few, the Government now has ownership of them. The Guyanese people are looking to the Government to solve them, not excuses as to why they cannot be solved. They are frustrated at the increasing hardship and impatience is rising.

There is no evidence that the Government has attached any importance to itself investing in Guyana’s economy or encouraging others to do so. The Government announced at the end of August that ‘almost nine months into the year, less that 50 percent of the 2016 National Budget has thus far been spent.’ No serious explanation was given for this ‘unfavourable’ and ‘embarrassing’ situation. Since it does not appear to have happened before, the question arises as to whether the trained and competent staff under the past administration that had responsibility are still in place or have been removed or hounded out or have left of their own accord. These are stories that are being heard all the time, with some evidence.

While Government investment is slowing down, the last Government left projects on the table about which little is now being heard, or have been abandoned, or postponed. The biggest was Amaila. In opposing Amaila when in opposition, the President promised two or three smaller hydro projects. After fifteen months we have not heard a word about them. The Specialty Hospital has been unceremoniously abandoned. India was also to assist is establishing a technology facility. There were many other projects being talked about. All may not have been feasible. All may not have received funding. There were great suspicions about the last two PPP/C Government’s track records as a result of Skeldon and allegations of corruption, but at least they understood the necessity for a continuous flow of investment into Guyana’s economy and President Jagdeo worked hard to ensure that projects were continually developed and funding sought or them. Over tremendous objection the country can now boast of a Berbice Bridge and a Marriott Hotel.

These issues have become more urgent because low commodity prices, serious problems in the sugar industry and reducing production in several sectors are creating severe problems. The Bank of Guyana reported some weeks ago that every sector of the economy has shown a decline except mining. The construction industry has slowed dramatically because houses are no longer being built. Negative factors, such as a return to the era of nationalization of personal property for the building of government offices will not help.

Some may conclude that the President stayed away from economic matters in order not to steal the Minister of Finance’s thunder when the latter presents his budget shortly. But such a conclusion would not be justified having regard to the President’s criticisms of the past Government’s management of the economy. This is par for the course, but we are now fifteen months away from the change in Government and the way in which this Government is spending money suggests that the coffers are overflowing. Take only two – the increase in ministerial salaries and the D’Urban Park development. Empty government coffers is not a legislative matter. It is political red meat.

The President threw another hunk of red meat to his political supporters by offering coroners’ inquests for the 400 persons allegedly killed during the PPP’s terms of offices. This is an issue that has frequently engaged the attention of many persons and organizations, which have accused the past PPP governments of atrocities ranging from genocide to murder to collusion in the killings, with efforts to make linkages with drug smuggling, Roger Khan and PPP/C Governments. At least a start could have been made on this in the fifteen months since the Government was elected. Laws already exist for this to happen and past PPP/C governments would no doubt be anxious to have them commence to ascertain whether there is any evidence of their culpability, which they deny. But instead of starting the process, the President used the opportunity of his address to the National Assembly to do some politicking.

It is commendable that the President has commenced the process of addressing the National Assembly at the beginning of every session. It should trigger advanced planning for a legislative agenda, the initiation of which the Parliamentary Management Committee had encouraged in times past, without much success. But the temptation must be resisted to use the occasion to score political points. There are numerous opportunities to do so. And in fact a legislative agenda itself is an opportunity to make political statements by the quality of the legislative plans advanced by the Government. For this the President can go high and still achieve a political objective.

4 thoughts on “GO HIGH, MR. PRESIDENT

  1. Mr. Ramkarran, should you not take into consideration the fact that David Granger and his gang are a bunch of incompetent people who are incapable of running a Govt. or a business?

    The shameful part about this is that if things continue as they are the nepotistic bunch that they replaced will possibly get their hands on the reins of power again. God help Guyana !!

    The situation cries for fresh people on the political scene of which I am sure there are many. Why don’t you, in your capacity as now an Elder Statesman, make it your work to encourage younger people of integrity to jump into the political arena. If you do this, sir, you will make the most major contribution to save Guyana by any politician present or past. I await your actions with bated breath.

  2. My wife and I have just returned after a three week vacation at home. Indeed, it was nice to be back, meet relatives, friends and our neighbours. I was shocked to hear their comments about the state of the country. They spoke about rising unemployment, lack of security, electricity woes, murder, the drug trade, pardon of prisoners by the president, corruption by public officials, robberies, an uncaring government, taking away state allowances from pensioners, skyrocketing cost of living, unkempt environment. Many of them wished that they were younger and could have migrated. They have all resigned their fate in the reality of the country and have accepted that the light at the end of the tunnel may be seen by their great, great, great grandchildren and not them. Some of them said that they voted for change but only see unending illusionary images. May our Almighty father show them the way for a better tomorrow…

    • Mr.Sukhu.

      The present PPP hierarchy( Jagdeo and his followers) is the architect of this mess that Guyana is sinking into. The PPP was elected in 1992 to clean up the mess that the vote rigging, racist PNC had Guyana in. Jagan died, his wife passed the mantle to a diabolical,Bharat Jagdeo, who was no better than Burnham. The only difference was that he is Indo- Guyanese while Burnham was Afro-Guyanese.

      When they took over they started behaving as if they owned Guyana. This is why they ended up being replaced. They thought they had a monopoly on the reins of Guyana, because the Indo- Guyanese vote was theirs.

      They caused the miasma Guyana is in !!!

      There should be hope. I am sure there is a lot of young honest people who are prepared to step up. They have to be encouraged to do so.

      Please pass this message on. I am sorry for your disappointment about your visit, but this is happening with a lot of Guyanese who return for a visit.

    • The lyrics of what people hear when they visit Guyana is nothing new. The same complaints have been around for as long as I know myself. For a matter of fact, Its the same song with its verses rearranged to make the episode appear real or current. But the issue remains the same; who can best take the ship to shore safely?

      Many of us who stand on the opposite sides of the ethnic trail have been taught to lay blame at the feet of PPP or PNC. But a careful examination of our politicians shows that it does not matter which foot wears the shoe, the effect is the same. The state of affairs in Guyana is not a result of an overnight schema but a continuous movement since the 1980’s and involved both of the major players (PPP and PNC).
      Lets pretend for argument sake that the former government was a better deal for the people, then development should have been evident among the people especially its supporters in places such as Berbice and Essequibo Coast. Rather, we see endless puddles of poverty. Schools built or rehabilitated but poor quality of teachers and large number of truants. Many squatting areas with no portable water, no electricity and no roads. The so called middle class farmers turn away from their land (lack of proper drainage and irrigation system) and prefer to migrate. More young men began using or abusing drugs. Even where jobs were available in the ancient county, the employers are reluctant to remunerate their employees with the meager minimum wage set by the government. Their supporters were blind folded by the erection of a few government buildings but the true evidence of development is the PPP stronghold (Berbice) being the crime capitol of Guyana.

      As a people, we need to forget these “knuckle” heads that brought our people such pain and misery over the years. All Guyanese politicians live in houses with glass roofs and have a basement filled with money and bank accounts scattered across the world. And unless we come to hold these “vagabonds” accountable for every penny of our tax dollars then we will continue to be “screwed” without “lube”.

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