By Leonard Gildarie
Sweeping changes are taking place within the world. It is an accepted fact that everything is interconnected. What happens in Syria affects Guyana. What happens in Greece and Europe will filter down to the little Caribbean.
We see oil prices dropping to under US$50 per barrel. Gold, falling to a four-year low, is slowly climbing back on the world market.
Of course, though the decisions on these remain in the hands of a few countries, it has far-reaching consequences for small countries like Guyana. We depend on the world prices of gold to determine the prices here. While oil remains low, we are still to feel the benefits as consecutive governments remain unwilling to lower the taxes on this, fearing a big drop in revenues from the high taxes.
In Trinidad and Tobago, a new Government is in place, after the Kamla administration lost their grip during the recent elections. Venezuela is readying for their elections later this year.
Why is this important for Guyana? Both countries are key trading partners. We are buying oil from both.
I make the point of relationship to stress how interconnected the world is, not only through the internet and the ready availability of information, but the fact that decisions thousands of miles away will have impact on what we do here.
In the same vein, we have so much information available at our fingertips but we are slow to act.
Last week, we spoke of housing developments in Guyana and what is happening on the East Bank of Demerara.
There are so many examples of best practices in the developed world that we can draw on.
Communities are well thought out, planned and then constructed to the finest of details.
Playgrounds, police station, fire stations, library, maintenance, the list goes on.
But for me one of the most important elements in any community will have to be job creation.
A few friends of mine recently migrated to New York. They were offered a place to stay in. All they had to do was pay the utilities.
Good deal, huh? They were forced to turn it down and rent a small, cramped apartment nearer to work. The reason was simple. The home they were offered was way off where they worked. It would have cost too much to pay the bus, train or cab fares than the rent they were paying.
It all comes down to dollars and sense.
So we come to the Guyana situation.
For too long, we had persons in place who thought their only responsibilities were to collect garbage and rates and taxes.
If you were lucky, the drains were cleaned. The reality is that many NDCs were handed new housing schemes without any measures in places to increase revenues. Revenues are critical to the functioning of any community.
Essential services like garbage collection, drains being cleared, police patrols, clean schools and even designated areas for parking are all necessities for the better life we all want; that we yearn for.
Poor rates and taxes collection, lazy and corrupt NDC officials and even poorer decisions of allowing rum shops and other glaring infringements have set the stage for what has been described as a ‘wild west’ situation.
The power of strong communities in the US lies in the leadership of local representatives. The battle to be elected in the US is tougher than any campaign I have seen elsewhere.
It appears Americans, on the whole, vote for issues rather than what mommy and daddy voted for. Issues like abortion, gun laws, medical insurance, minimum wage, same sex marriage, interest rates…these are the bread and butter issues that matters.
Today, the new Government is talking about doing away with policies that concentrated on just putting in infrastructures and offering a houselot.
The new schemes must include playgrounds and zones for industrial and commercial operations for job creation.
There are plenty lands across Guyana to create these communities, the government says. The dependence on GT for a job will have to see a major shift.
I wish the new administration luck. We need a new breed of people who will have to lead the charge.
We need people who will not be afraid of change or thinking out of the box.
The western world has been agitating for local government elections. There have been reforms, albeit at criticisms of the new opposition which claimed that a recent Parliamentary bill was rushed.
The reality is that unless Guyana hosts local government elections early, there can be no real development.
There were plots of lands set aside in each scheme for further development.
Many of these plots, we are now learning, somehow made their ways into the hands of a few private persons who built more homes.
At the end of the day, the people of the new schemes lost.
As we ready for local government elections in the coming months, these are the issues that need to be considered.
What kind of neighbourhood do we want to live in? Can we demand more from our representatives? How do we hold them more accountable when they abuse our assets like tractors and trailers?
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