A manifesto is a distilled document. It presents the main things that a political party promises should it win political office; but a manifesto cannot cover all the things that a political party will do. That would be much too ambitious in scope for a manifesto.
But despite this obvious shortcoming, there are some things that are so politically inconvenient that they will never make the cut in any of the political manifestos that will be presented by the political parties in Guyana.
Today I want to point out to you four things that you are not likely to find in any of the manifestos of the political parties in Guyana.
Squatting: None of the political parties are going to touch this political hot potato. Squatting is one of the most serious problems in our country today. Guyana has become the Wild West of Squatting. People see a piece of land and simply go and live on it. This is why for a country which has one of the lowest population densities in the world, people are huddled together in disordered settlements. In some areas in Georgetown, people are squatting on the embankments of major canals. They defecate into these canals which then overflow during times of flooding. Guyana is a sitting time bomb for the outbreak of cholera. It is just a matter of time before this happens. Yet no one wants to touch this issue because it is not a vote grabber. No political party will propose that squatting be made a criminal offence.
Illegal Vending: This is another form of squatting but is more pernicious. It distorts economic incentives. It promotes the idea that the economic sphere needs not be organized around rules. Illegal vending represents the hijacking, rather competition for economic space. It is a form of economic pick-pocket.
It contravenes the idea of a level playing field. You, as a legitimate business person, are expected to invest in a high cost property in the commercial district with all that this entails including paying higher rates and taxes. You are required to carry overheads. You are expected to comply with the statutory regulations concerning working conditions. You pay your taxes.
All of this accrues a cost to the business person. Yet having risked so much, you wake up one morning to find someone selling in front of your store. That person does not have to bear any of the expenses you have to bear. It makes you wonder why you ever ventured into a formal business in the first place when you could simply become a stationary vendor.
Reduce the size of government: There is a lot of talk about reducing government. The solutions being proposed are about prosecuting those who unlawfully enrich themselves at the public trough. The solutions are also about establishing a Public Procurement Commission. The solutions invariably are about creating additional layers of governmental bureaucracy.
No one sees the wisdom of as yet proposing that one of the main solutions to reducing corruption is having less government, not more. It is about shrinking, deregulating, divesting and contracting-out more and more government functions. When political parties win power, they have to create jobs for their supporters and activists.
Thus what we have is more government rather than less, the very opposite of what is needed to stem corruption.
Retirement for persons over 65: The retirement age for public servants is 55. It is much too low. The retirement age should be 60 at the minimum. But regardless of what is the retirement age, there is an increasing practice in the country of employing and retaining some workers way beyond age 65. This blocks the upward mobility of young people within the system. No political party however will propose that so long as you are a non-elected public official or worker, you should retire at the age of 60 or even 65.
There are persons who are beyond this age who are still on their jobs and this is frustrating to the ambitions of young people in the system. But this will not make the cut because amongst the ranks of those vying for election to public office are many of those who should have been by now happily retired to their rocking chairs.
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