A brighter day dawns
There is a saying that before the storm there is calm. Another saying goes that the darkest hour is just before the dawn. Guyana’s present situation can be likened to any of those sayings. Indeed the country is poised for economic take-off but this is overshadowed by some dark incidents, not least among them allegations of rampant corruption.
A few years ago these allegations never surfaced because people were more concerned with being victimized if they spoke; they feared losing jobs or being targeted by the police who appeared under the thumb of the administration.
Others were apathetic about the situation because they had managed to get into the loop. They had gained employment in sections of the government and had attracted a contract fee that boggled the mind. For example, a foreigner who managed to gain employment in the department that was responsible for the One Laptop per Family project exposed a shocking waste of money paid to the favoured.
He said that he had barely opened his mouth to explain his qualification when he was offered what by any standard was a super salary. Had he been Guyanese he would have enjoyed the windfall and continued along with a blinkered view of the situation in which he had found himself. But he came from a land where such things are readily exposed and he knew that the fallout would have been disastrous.
He talked but that never changed anything. Then there was a woman who was accused of leaking information about a batch of laptops bought by Office of the President. Of course Office of the President denied acquiring any computer but the receipts exposed the lie. Once more the hub of the government was caught lying. A woman was sacked.
There came the elections and a new Head of State was plunged into unfamiliar territory. For one, he was asked to preside over a minority government. This was something new and his colleagues or the people whom he appointed to serve as Ministers began to behave as though they were still king of the hill and that they were the lords unto themselves and the nation.
The allegations of corruption continue and President Donald Ramotar must be in a quandary. He has already used his broom with some effect in two Government departments. He has caused investigations to be mounted in others and the nation is looking on. They expect him to deal with and to root out the corruption that has become endemic.
Yet behind these dark clouds there are some promising things. For example, Guyana is poised to enter into the ranks of oil producing countries. Needless to say, with oil the country would have even more money at its disposal and therefore the likelihood of even greater corruption. With oil there are likely to be numerous major projects and with each project, unless the old dispensation changes, there are going to be acts of corruption such as kickbacks and naked bribery.
There is also the coming of hydroelectricity, the road link between Guyana and Brazil and of course, the expanded Cheddi Jagan International Airport. All of these projects would help remove Guyana from the ranks of the poverty stricken but there must be strict control. Guyana must not be allowed to go the way of Nigeria where the wealth of the country has been plundered by a few at the expense of the majority who would never believe that the country is actually rich.
Corruption would devour the richest country and there is the belief that corruption has prevented Guyana from moving up the scale in the measure of poor countries. The view is that no matter how much money pours into the country Guyana will remain poor since the money would be siphoned off.
However, there are signs that something is being done, albeit not enough because no one is being prosecuted so there is no deterrent. This is the silver lining and it could only get wider and brighter for the better of the country.