It is often said that in politics, it would be suicidal for Governments to insult, attempt to deceive or take the electoratefor granted. It has not worked in the past and will not work now or in the future. Governments have to be honest in order to gain the trust and confidence of the people. The ground-swell support that most governments normally receive in their first few months in office is often evaporated by mistakes. Governments that want to remain popular with the public should always do the right thing.
In Guyana, the major challenges facing the government are crime which is out of control; the ailing economy whose GDP has plummeted below one percent; jobs for the restless youths; crumbling infrastructure; and the failing sugar and rice industries.
These problems have been inherited from the previous government which has been in office for twenty-three years. The APNU+AFC government must be proactive and should not react to every criticism but accept that the 50 percent pay increase was a mistake and move on, especially if they are not inclined to roll it back.
The people are upset and they have every reason to be, but the constant blunders and the arrogance and insults displayed by some officials are frightening. To justify a 50 percent salary increase after being in office for four months is absurd. Words cannot begin to explain this travesty. In essence, the government is telling the people to “do as it says but not as it does?”
The government should allow the people to vent their frustrations, and not aggravate the situation with silly responses. It ought to know that there is a time and place for everything and it is theirs to be silent.
If a 50 percent salary increase is not astronomical, then what is? For anyone to ask the people to trust the government in light of the pay increase is irrational, insensitive and conceited. If a 50 percent pay increase is not astronomical, then it should be given to the civil servants, teachers and nurses who are struggling to make ends meet. This cannot be the “good life for all” as promised by the coalition government in its manifesto. The nation should start a prayer vigil for the government to do the right thing for the good of the people and the country.
The salary increase could have been palatable to the people if they were properly informed and solid reasons provided. It is wrong for some to say that they have left their high paying jobs to join the government to become poor. The huge salary increase is one thing but disrespecting the people is another. The government should have its Public Relations team debunk the propaganda that the PPP is spreading across the country.
Its leaders have accused the APNU+AFC government of rigging the elections and that the PPP has won seven of the ten regions and the seven party coalition government has won only two regions convincingly and the third by one vote.
Imagery and propaganda are what counts and sells in politics and perceptions tend to become reality in most cases. It has been said before but bears repeating that unless the government is prepared to acquire skilled, qualified and experienced persons from the diaspora to help improve the ailing economy, increase production in the sugar and rice industries, create jobs for the youths and reduce crime, it will likely pay a heavy price at the polls in the up-coming Local Government Elections and possibly, in the next elections.
For this not to happen, the government has to de-construct the PPP, rebuild the economy, reduce crime and improve the lives of the poor and the working class. In politics as in life, timing is always important. It is time for the government and the nation to move on from the pay increase.
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