– Dr. David Hinds
After analyzing the performance of the APNU+AFC since it assumed office, Executive Member of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), Dr. David Hinds is convinced that Guyana seems to have an administration that is a modified PPP in office.
The political activist told Kaieteur News that his biggest issue with the present government is its inability to recognize its historical significance.
In this regard, he said that the government is not close enough to the people, so it does not understand what its rise to office means for the hopes and aspirations of the people, particularly the poor and powerless and those who voted for it.
The WPA Executive Member said that the coalition party has the opportunity to lift Guyana out of the mode of bad governance that has plagued the nation’s entire independence experience, but it still seems unable to meet that challenge.
Dr. Hinds commented that no government since the early independence administration has enjoyed the goodwill and opportunity to do something transformational for Guyana as the present one.
But he said that with each passing day, the Government demonstrates a glaring incapacity and perhaps unwillingness to rise to the occasion. Dr. Hinds said that the government has even been unable to translate the energies of 2011-2015 into social transformation.
“What big positive changes have occurred since May 2015? Sometimes it seems as if all we have is a modified PPP in office. There has been no alternative vision. The government has generally followed the same economic path of the PPP. There is not even an attempt to look for alternative approaches to the neo-liberal structural adjustment medicine.”
Dr. Hinds commented that indeed, there are some training programs and other initiatives aimed at helping the poor. He noted however that there is no overall economic vision for the country.
The columnist said that the government is not thinking big. In a country like Guyana, Dr. Hinds said that one has to be aggressive at eradicating poverty through investment in education and job creation. He stressed that it is the only way out.
In the area of education, Dr. Hinds said that with all due respect to the initiatives taken by his party leader, Education Minister Dr. Rupert Roopnarine, he does not see the required energy in the education sector which is pivotal to Guyana’s ability to rise above its inherited inadequacies.
In this regard, Dr. Hinds said that the University of Guyana is still troubled. He said that there needs to be a complete overhaul at that institution to bring it up to speed. In this respect, he explained that this means attracting more lecturers with the necessary skills which in turn means paying them much better than they are being paid at the moment.
“Reputable scholars will not go to UG to work for the pittance they pay. It’s the same with teachers at the lower levels. We will not attract and retain committed teachers on the salary that is being paid. There has to be a big education vision that speaks to the eradication of illiteracy among our young people.”
He said that Guyana cannot compete in the Caribbean and the world with the high level of illiteracy it has.
In this regard, he said, “You see people trying to do things here and there in the communities. The President has been tackling transportation. The First Lady has spearheaded literacy projects in some communities. The Ministry is moving to deal with Math.”
But Dr. Hinds stressed that there remains no overall vision.
On the matter of the plight of the poor, the Executive Member of the WPA said that Guyana continues to witness the same worrying story. In this regard, he commented that the government has not done a particularly good job.
He believes that the Government is not sensitive enough to the issue of unemployment, underemployment and low wages of the employed.
“Where are the initiatives to put our people to work? In post plantation societies like Guyana, the government is all we have as far as creating jobs especially for poor people. With a limited private sector which generally does not manufacture things and with limited scope for expansion, the government remains the only way out.”
The columnist argued that the government has to invest in its people both at the level of education and training and the creation of decent paying jobs. He said that the Government has to put its young people to work very quickly or the country will explode socially and politically.
On the issue of governance, the Executive Member of the WPA said that the Government’s performance has been mixed.
He said that the nation has not seen the massive over-reach and authoritarianism of the previous government. He said that protestors are not beaten and killed in the streets and Opposition affiliates are not being thrown in jail for their politics.
He even noted that there is a level of efficiency at some ministries.
“But generally, nothing has changed as far as transforming the state and society is concerned. The anti-corruption drive has been crawling. The problem is that if you don’t go after entrenched corruption, you eventually become infected by it. I would not be surprised to learn of corrupt practices in some high places,” expressed Dr. Hinds.
The political activist said that official corruption is two way. He said that even if it is not initiated by the government official, he or she could be lured into it by the entreaties of the “big-monied” people.
Furthermore, when it comes to the accessibility of Ministers, Dr. Hinds is of the firm belief that the coalition government has the worst record.
He said, “They do not make themselves available to the people, except in politically- controlled environments. This has led to some reckless decisions that have served to alienate even supporters.”
The political activist said that the vendors’ issue, the parking meter fiasco, the handling of wage increase for public service workers, the increase of Ministers’ salaries, the move to fire public servants because of their age and the heavy taxation in the recent budget are some of the wrong-headed decisions that arise from insufficient contact with the people.
“They have to do better at talking to the people. Get out of Georgetown and go into the communities even if it’s only to listen to the people.”
The columnist said that consultation is not just meeting with selected so-called stakeholders at the top. He stressed that the real stakeholders are the people in their communities.
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