The resurrection of the nationalisation idea in Guyana
There are serious apprehensions developing in Guyana about the position adopted by the combined opposition. These apprehensions have arisen because of the cuts instituted to the Budget by the combined opposition and by something the president said was proposed by the opposition in respect to the Berbice River Bridge.
The cuts inflicted by the combined opposition to the Budget showed a different opposition to what many had expected. And the announcement by the president that a request was made for him to nationalize the Berbice River Bridge has sent chills down the spines of some Guyanese who may have presumed that the free world and Guyana had permanently laid to rest that most controversial process of nationalization. It does seem however as if nationalization is still on some politicians’ minds.
It is hoped that the opposition which has not denied that it did suggest nationalization as a means of reducing fares to cross the Berbice River Bridge, can clarify just where it stands on this question because it has dire consequences of foreign investment as it does for many who do not wish to see Guyana go down back that road which brought ruin to our industries.
The fear of returning to a failed model of economic model at the behest of the opposition is worrying to some Guyanese. Many of them are now beginning to understand just how fragile are the comforts that they enjoy and the freedoms that they have tasted for close to twenty years.
The future of this country is hanging in the balance because of power-hungry politics all of which was made possible because many Guyanese took certain things for granted either assuming that the PPP would cruise to an easy victory at last November polls or misunderstood the dangers of staying away to express dissatisfaction with the way things were going under the Jagdeo regime.
They are now beginning to accept that the gamble they took in staying away from the polls or giving the opposition such a good showing has backfired.
The loss of a government majority in the National Assembly has left them feeling insecure and uncertain about the future. They have seen what the opposition is capable of; they have witnessed the naked pursuit of malice, spite and vindictive politics and they know that this same sort of bullyism is what took Guyana down the drain more than twenty years ago.
It is now that many who experimented with their votes are beginning to understand the danger of such an exercise. It is only now that they are beginning to appreciate how dangerously positioned Guyana is and how in the wink of an eye all the progress that was attained over the past twenty years can disappear.
This is not what many had anticipated. There were many who had hoped that the new dispensation would have led to an improved political and economic climate. They had hoped that it would have eased political tensions, broken down factionalism and allowed for all the parties to work together for the good of the country.
Instead, what they saw has not pleased them. They saw the parliament being used to flex political muscles, to show who is boss and to exercise political leverage. They saw the effective starving of resources for some state agencies and one constitutional commission which now could lead to many workers being put out of their jobs.
They have seen plans for hydropower, titling of Amerindian lands, the continued distribution of free laptops to needy families and the installation of solar panels for those without a regular supply of electricity being dashed.
Guyana’s economic prospects have been seriously undermined by the approach of the opposition which was immature and short-sighted because not only did it deal a savage blow to the economy by withholding twenty billion dollars in spending and by threatening the jobs of hundreds but it also sent negative signal to foreign capital which is needed to develop Guyana.
When foreign investors see what took place, when they see how easy it was for important foreign-funded projects to be placed under the axe, they will think twice about investing in Guyana.
But more ominous was the report that has not been denied, that the opposition proposed that the government nationalize the Berbice River Bridge in order to secure reduced fares.
One of the main fears of the propertied class in Guyana in the past was the fear that the State could repossess their property and pay them 1939 prices as compensation. The law has been changed and now demands that fair market compensation be offered. But the fact that in this day and age when only autocratic states have pursued nationalization of States assets, it is most disturbing to learn that the possibility of nationalizing the Berbice Bridge could even be mentioned again in Guyana.