Oct 19, 2008 Features / Columnists
The Parrot has written extensively on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with CARIFORUM and the EU. Much was said by others, both locally and internationally, on the issue. Guyana took a position and received little support from, what was supposed to be, colleague Heads within the Region, barring Haiti.
This position was articulated by Uncle Bharrat long before the EPA became a mantra locally. I recall last year when he alluded to some of the disadvantages contained in the agreement. Even before then, these issues were brought to the fore.
He pointed out that while the agreement has some advantages, the disadvantages have dire consequences for small States in the Region. These sentiments were expounded at every possible opportunity here, regionally and internationally. It is therefore absurd to see some sections of the local media propagating that the EPA was only recently brought into focus. Then again, it is not surprising as to how some media houses would conduct their business.
As reported and as captured in the words of Uncle Bharrat, “Guyana fought a good fight”. Now some people would spare no efforts in their pains to dispute this. For those, they should also spare no effort in trying to understand the ramifications of the sections of the EPA that are disadvantageous to Guyana. It is only after such an exercise that they can appreciate the efforts not spared by Uncle Bharrat to highlight these deficiencies.
What these people have to understand is that Guyana is at stake and any imposition by powerful groupings like the EU, poses serious threats in this regard.
The fact that as a result of the persistence of Uncle Bharrat two controversial clauses in the agreement were amended is in itself a monumental achievement. Think about it. A small nation like ours effectively made the EU reconsider some of the contents of the agreement. What is more astonishing is that Guyana did it single-handedly; without the support of CARICOM, except for Haiti.
Challenging any establishment is not an easy task; risks are involved. Not many are willing to take such risks. Stepping back a few paces in time, we saw a defiant Cheddi Jagan taking on the establishment of our colonial masters.
Many prior to him were afraid to take the actions he did. Today, the invaluable dividends we enjoy, an independent and free Guyana, is as a direct result of the actions taken by our country’s fourth President. These things do not come easily.
The fight then was long and hard. The fight to have the EPA amended was no different. Uncle Bharrat was not afraid to challenge the EPA and the EU.
The Chairman of the Private Sector Commission, Captain Gerald Gouveia, made an interesting comment to the press a few days ago as it relates to the EPA and Guyana’s position.
He posited that Uncle Bharrat’s challenge to aspects of the agreement is as a result of his (Uncle Bharrat) astuteness on technical issues such as the EPA. This, in addition to him being an economist, makes it easier for him to analyse the document and to better comprehend its undercurrents. Captain Gouveia pointed that such abilities may be deficient in the other Leaders of the Region. As such, the possibility of taking issues for granted, is strong and may have been a factor in their handling of the agreement.
This is indeed interesting and provides a different dimension as to why Guyana took the position it did. There are numerous instances where people in general sign agreements without reading them meticulously and understanding their contents. As an example, how many really do read the very fine prints that are the hallmark of hire purchase agreements?
Think about it. Some, if not many, with their objective of acquiring the item in mind, without reading, just sign the dotted lines which are identified by an officer.
Even when the document is taken home, little or no attention is paid after. Sounds familiar? The housing crisis in the US which led to the current financial crises can be cited as an example.
Having seen the results of such relentless efforts by Uncle Bharrat, one can only imagine what else could have been achieved if the Region had taken on the EU establishment as a united body. Experts believe, if that were the case, then the disadvantages contained within the agreement, would have been lessened. The old cliché comes to mind, “united we stand, divided we fall”.
The EU was undivided in their stance on the agreement. Their dividends are contained within. In my opinion, those who just wanted to be heard for political reasons and who question Guyana’s position on the EPA, are venturing into the realm of sedition.
This may sound harsh, but they should understand that our country took a position to safeguard the future of all Guyanese, regardless of their political persuasion.
We of the present must preserve the future for the next generation. This is not the time for political pandering. Here again, the contributions of the Chairman of the PNCR must be commended. Developments subsequent to his presentation at the local EPA consultations suggest that he also fought the establishment; his Party’s.
He understands the consequences imposed through the EPA; apparently some in his camp don’t. Or, maybe they do, but for political glorification, they become conveniently oblivious of the impact the agreement can have on Guyana’s future.
We proved that we will not take things for granted and that we would resist having things being shoved down our throats. Our history has taught us well. Maybe it’s time the naysayers learn. That in itself is a challenge.
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