In a conversation with Minister Jaipaul Sharma, he was outraged at a vicious attack on him by the WPA over his rejection of Clive Thomas’ advocacy of cash incentives to citizens from oil revenues. The WPA’s confrontation came in a published letter in the newspapers twelve days ago.
There were tones that were personally directed against the minister, of which the following two stand out; (1) – “WPA will resist the temptation to pronounce on that minster’s performance in his portfolio for fear of being unable to find anything substantive to evaluate.” (2) – “We wonder which party or coalition of parties he thinks will benefit from this so-called gimmick. If you have nothing fit and proper to say, then say nothing.”
After a long chat, my advice to him was to reply to the WPA’s denunciation of him and let the Guyanese people judge for themselves who is hypocritical, who practices anti-working class politics, who supports neo-liberal economics, who should be the last persons to speak on the politics of morality and decency. Sharma kept telling me that he doesn’t want to reply, and I kept insisting to him that it was his obligation as a minister of government to so do.
I pointed out several areas in the letter and in the conduct of the WPA since it went into power in 2015, where he can expose the unadulterated degeneracy and political crassness of the WPA, and expose that party for the world to see its graphic depravity. Here are my suggestions and guidance to Sharma when we spoke, and I urged him to put these questions directly to the WPA’s leadership. If they refuse to respond, keep banging away in the newspapers and the Guyanese people will see and understand.
First, the WPA at its press conference indicated that it will put its cash transfer adumbration to the government and if it is not accepted, it will organize support in the wider society for its cause. Sharma should enquire two things after hearing this. One is; has the WPA spoken to its representative in the Cabinet, Dr. Roopnaraine, to formally table the WPA’s proposal and if it has, what is Roopnaraine’s attitude?
This should be interesting in the light of Roopnaraine’s complete distance from the PPP for over two years now. At the lunch table at German’s Restaurant, Dr. David Hinds told me and Leonard Craig of the AFC that it is his opinion that Roopnaraine no longer represents the WPA. The other thing Sharma must ask is which Guyanese people the WPA intends to organize, and with what. How many souls are in the WPA’s leadership? Which part of Guyana can one find a WPA group? What form will this organizing will take?
Secondly, I put it to Sharma that he must ask the WPA why after three years as part of the government, only the cash transfer idea it has publicly come up with. Why no other idea after three years?
Thirdly, I strongly urged Sharma to ask the WPA if it has been happy or comfortable with many policies of the APNU+AFC government against the background of this quote in the WPA’s letter; “… every WPA policy statement from the birth of our party in 1974, every WPA election manifesto from 1985 and the two manifestos of the APNU and APNU+AFC with which the WPA was integrally involved in crafting, and they will see that our party has long made spending on social programmes central planks of national development.”
I indicated to Sharma that the party that wrote that statement could only be a hypocritical outfit when one thinks about the countless moves against the interests of the working people that the WPA voted for in Parliament since May 2015. The list is too long, but it included a mere two percent reduction of VAT and the placement of VAT on goods and services that didn’t carry it including tuition fees of private schools. I urged Sharma to get the Hansard and see what the WPA representative in Parliament had to say on these anti-working class measures in all the budgets since 2016.
Jaipaul Sharma intoned that he is not interested in replying to the WPA, because he knows the party is just playing to the gallery. But that was exactly my point to him. Since it is playing to the gallery, then the WPA is opportunistic and not sincere, and he should publish his response to expose them. I ended my conversation with the Junior Minister of Finance with the advice that in this country when you do not defend yourself, it will come back to haunt you.
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