THE PRIVATE SECTOR CANNOT LEAD DEVELOPMENT IN GUYANA
Forbes Burnham saw the private sector as a threat to his political power; so he marginalized it. The post- Jagan PPP sees the private sector as an ally and they are hoping that this PPP is going to build the new Guyana.
At one GUYEXPO, there was unveiled a vision of what Main Street in Georgetown would look like in the future. It was quite an impressive depiction of high rises and modern buildings. It may happen, but not in the sort of organized way that the government may have been hoping, and certainly this task cannot be left up to private sector, both domestic and foreign.
The present private sector of Guyana cannot be entrusted with the development of Guyana. Sure enough they can and must play a part in the sort of society that the government envisions, but the private sector cannot be the ones to lead the government’s vision of what this country should be like in the next 20 years.
That task has to be the responsibility of government and it is for government to take the lead in deciding a vision for the country and for each region, and to bring those visions into reality.
During the talks between the government and those with whom they were negotiating in Region 10, there was apparently a request for development projects. The government however feels that what it has received from the region is not a developmental plan with ideas for development.
This is indeed surprising, given all the talk from the opposition both on the campaign trail and after the elections. Against this background, one would have expected that all that it would have taken for the opposition to come up with a developmental plan for Region 10, would have been for it to go on a computer, open a file, and print the plans the opposition had for the development of that region had it won the elections.
It would be something of a shocker if it is now discovered that the opposition in fact has no detailed development blueprint for Linden, but merely has a potluck of ideas about what can be done to improve things in Region 10.
So is there an opposition development plan for Linden? If there is such a plan, where exactly can it be found and why did it take so long to surface, if it did surface?
Instead of a plan, we are reading about a demand for a committee to examine plans for projects. This is really a plan for a planning committee. A proposal for the composition of the land selection committees to reflect the division of votes in the elections is not a developmental plan or initiative. It is a plan about power-sharing not development.
It is not even a new idea, but the resurrection of one of Desmond Hoyte’s ideas, which never have and never will see the light of day, because the region simply does not have the administrative capacity to undertake such responsibilities.
Ironically, the opposition parties were not keen on parliamentary committees reflecting the popular will of the last elections. The opposition wanted to hog political power in parliament, but there is now a call for administrative power in Region 10 to be delegated in proportion to the votes received by the parties in the last elections.
The opposition cannot have it both ways. They cannot want to hog power in parliament and expect the government to grant them concessional powers in land selection committees. Further, they cannot ask to substitute developmental planning for power sharing.
The negotiations taking place are about development for Linden not power-sharing. If the opposition wants power-sharing as part of the solution to the crisis in Linden, they should begin by reversing their stranglehold on the committees in parliament, respect the separation of powers, and stop trying to hijack the role of the executive in parliament by ending the stockpile of needless and futile motions.
The role of the opposition is to provide oversight and to suggest alternative policies through critical debate. It is not to try to dictate governmental spending priorities; it is not to try to hijack the government’s legislative agenda, it is not to try to force the government to do the bidding of the opposition. And it is not, until a new power sharing constitution is passed, to try to impose on this nation the sharing of political power.
The people of Guyana did not vote for power-sharing. They voted for their respective parties and somehow the result ended with the present configuration. It is for the opposition to not misread this new configuration and it does not give them any executive mandate.
As a major constituent in Region 10, the opposition will have a say in any developmental plan for the region. But in the end it is the government which has to agree to the plan, and it would be nice if there is common agreement.
Unfortunately it is not certain whether the opposition has a development plan for Linden or whether what they have is a mere set of ideas. In the end it is the responsibility of the government to conceive of a vision for Linden, and for that matter for all regions and areas of Guyana.
For too long the government has been relying on the private sector to push development. The government is fixated on infrastructural development to support private sector development.
Such a policy has limitations. The private sector in Guyana can only partner in development. The government therefore has to come up with developmental plans for all regions of Guyana and they have to consult with the stakeholders within and outside the region and when this is finished, develop the nuts and bolts to put these plans into action.
There have been many plans for the development of Guyana. These plans have been all overarching plans. Missing are the plans from the bottom up that fit into this bigger plan.
The present dispensation offers an opportunity for the government to develop developmental plans for every region because the opposition parties, the private sector and the regional administrative bodies will be able to undertake this task. This has to be the role of government.
To hope that real development is going to take place through private sector investments is to hope in vain. It simply will not happen. The private sector is not up to such a big task.