Have you ever read a newspaper editorial’s critique of a government’s performance and the Finance Minister’s reply and both arguments have right and wrong? If you haven’t had that experience then read Sunday’s Stabroek News’s (SN) trenchant indictment of the failure of APNU+AFC regime and the rebuttal of the Finance Minister two days after.
The editorial’s intellectual condemnation is definitely plausible. But it lacks a holistic perspective thus exposing a crucial methodological vacuum. The Minister’s responding adumbration was cogent and persuasive but he, like SN, chose to ignore certain factual egregiousness in the exercise of power by his party.
You cannot expect a newspaper editorial to encapsulate an academic treatise on the terrible misdirections of the three-year-old administration but context is everything and in the context of our political culture dating from renewed self-government in 1957 to David Granger’s invisible autocratic tendencies, Guyana problem has been lack of essentialist democratic outputs in the exercise of state power.
The editorial chose to omit a discussion on creeping, authoritarian tendencies and concentrated on lack of leadership qualities.
The Finance Minister echoed what most first year economic student at UG should know. The government inherited from the PPP a criminalized state where the informal economy dominated Guyana’s financial and commercial world.
Roger Khan and Khemraj Lall are graphic evidence that the PPP regime relied on illegal money to fuel the economy.
When that money went out of circulation, so did the economy. Khemraj Lall flew into Guyana when he wanted to, landed at a private hangar at the airport and exited without any checks.
This man was dealing in dirty money for the PPP regime. The Finance Minister is 1000 percent right when he said that vast constructions of vast buildings (my choice of words) have halted since 2015 because illegal money is on the run since the PPP lost power.
SN missed a formidable indictment of the administration because it chose to overlook the balance sheet of democratic output. With the birth of APNU and the AFC, Guyanese saw two forces that would usher greater freedoms for this nation that was battered by the worst leader Guyana produced.
I would say a meticulous academic comparison between Burnham and Jagdeo would more favour Burnham for having a greater sense of fairness.
Read all the speeches of the new kid on the block – the AFC, 2005 – 2015 and you would see that clear and bright promises were made about greater freedoms. Those freedoms never came and they aren’t coming.
For me, and I can only speak for myself, the one terrible episode that has pierced my mind and has changed the way I will vote if I vote at all in 2020 (I am registered at Turkeyen and there is no choice so I am not voting in the LGE next month) was the removal of David Hinds and Lincoln Lewis.
That was really a devastating blow to democracy and it was frightening when you think of the historic struggles of those two men. Equally frightening was the man who gave the order – Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo.
These democratic retrogressions should have been cited by the editorial because more than poor economic performance and lack of leadership qualities, they pose the greatest danger to the future of Guyana.
How did SN miss the justification by Ministers Ramjattan and Harmon for the inclusion of a draconian section of the Cyber Crime Bill that if such a Bill existed during Jagdeo’s reign then both Ramjattan and Harmon as opposition critics of the government would have been arrested?
There is no question in my mind that secured power by the APNU+AFC regime after 2020 will see a deepening of the authoritarian instincts. The men and women that currently rule this country are no democrats. Unfortunately SN did not look at this aspect of governance.
The Finance Minister was opportunistic in his reaction. He avoided an apology for wasteful expenditure since his party got into power. His ministry spent millions on huge billboards with his visage on each announcing the coming of the 2017 national budget.
The Prime Minister’s salary is far greater than that under the PPP. The Prime Minister goes around with a security entourage that is larger than anything Sam Hinds was accustomed to and Hinds had seven details with him.
The colossal expenditure of funds at UG for overseas trips and entertainment Presidents Jagdeo and Ramotar would never have approved of. Finally, D’Urban Park is a disgraceful waste of money.
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