Guyanese are hoping and praying that 2018 would turn out to a great year for the country. Indeed, 2017 was anything but quiet. It was the year of serious crimes, traffic accidents and fatalities as well as the record number of arrests of criminals and guns seized by the police in various operations across the country.
Despite their best intentions to fight crime, the police were undermined by some of its own ranks who were involved in serious crimes.
The recent arrest of a senior police officer in Berbice with a large quantity of whisky and the alleged murder of businessman Godfrey Scipio by a former “best” cop are just two of many crimes committed by police.
As reported, 31 rogue cops were charged and kicked out of the force in 2017 compared to 26 in 2016. More than 100 were disciplined for misconduct or complaints lodged against them. However, the police must be commended for solving 77 percent of the more than 120 murders in 2017 and for reducing crime.
But it seems that Guyana is what Charles Dickens described as “A Tale of Two Cities” in one of his famous novels. For some, 2017 was the best of times, but for others, especially the poor, it was the worst of times. Serious crimes, including murders were down, but carjacking and gun violence were up.
Gold, a major foreign currency earner, soared to new heights, with increased production, which is truly a remarkable feat. 2017 was the best year for the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) which collected more than $15 billion over 2016. It was also the worst year for the GRA because its name continues to be synonymous with bribes and other forms of corruption. It dismissed more than 100 staffers due to corrupt practices.
The downside for Guyana in 2017 was its struggling economy with the sugar and bauxite industries about to collapse. There is also too much indiscipline and lawlessness in society and these along with low-productivity, high unemployment, increase poverty and declining foreign reserves have caused Guyana to teeter at the precipice of becoming a failing State, if not a failed State.
The year 2018 must be a year of steadfast decision-making by the government in order to save this fledgling democracy before things permanently fall apart. The government must be serious about diversifying the economy, reduce spending, increase productivity and create jobs, among others.
The president must shuffle his cabinet and replace those who so far have attracted failing grades. Where crime and corruption are concerned, the president must act decisively in 2018 to weed them out from society, even though it seems to be a daunting task.
He must fulfill his promise to stamp out the corrupt culture which was well established, successfully practised and became ingrained during the last administration. He insists that children must be in school and women should be home with their children rather than be in jail. To support his view he has been pardoning some women. He has provided the means of transportation to see the children get to school but so widespread is the problem of the poor that it would take more than a few buses and boats to get many children back into schools. It would take the education of parents.
It is time for the president to take the bull by the horns and make the tough decisions, though unpopular, to ensure sustained economic growth and a Guyana that is safe and truly prosperous. Public relations gimmickry will not do it. He must bell the cat.
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