There is an old saying that it is better to teach a man to fish than to give him a fish. It is better to provide someone with the means to earn a dollar than to have to always give him a dollar.
The decision of the PNCR to distribute free tickets for the Buju Banton show is another example of a bad precedent. The ruling party is encouraging a freeness syndrome.
It is estimated that the PNCR distributed more than 8,000 free tickets at a total value of $40M. The tickets were distributed mainly in the strongholds of the ruling party.
It is not as if the cost of the tickets to the show were costly. The general admission cost was within reach of the ordinary man. But why buy a ticket when you can get it free? Why go and catch fish when you can stay home and have free fish delivered to your door?
The free distribution of tickets for major events is nothing new. During last year’s CPL, the government also distributed free tickets.
The free distribution of tickets by the thousands encourages mendicancy or begging. The government and the PNCR are turning the nation into bums. Last weekend, persons were frantically calling their friends and relations, calling even strangers and asking about free tickets.
Some persons only attend certain events if it is free. Once they have to pay, they are not going.
The distribution of free tickets will create a feeling of entitlement in the future. Once someone gets a free pass this time around, they will look out for the possibility of a free ticket the next time around. It is human nature.
Persons have grown so accustomed to the freeness that they now expect that whenever there is a major show or cricket match, the government or the ruling party will provide free tickets for them and their friends.
One man went on Facebook asking for the phone numbers of two government ministers who he felt could have provided him with tickets for himself and extended family. He was looking for ten tickets. He and his family will buy the drinks, all they want is the free tickets.
This is the same thing that happened during the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) cricket last year. Many persons were begging for free tickets back then. Some even sold some of the free tickets they got.
Most of the persons seeking freeness can damn well afford to pay the entrance free for these major events. But why buy tickets when you can get it free from either the government or the ruling party?
For the Buju show, the PNCR actually went into communities to share tickets. This has caused disaffection in those areas, which were left out of the distribution process. The people in those areas are asking why they were not given tickets.
The ruling party may itself have had to beg for those same tickets it was sharing out. It is hardly likely that the PNCR could have afforded to spend that large amount of money to provide free tickets for its supporters. So it may have gotten complimentary tickets.
The government has to be wary that it does not create a dependency syndrome whereby every time there is a major show or event that people will look to either them or the ruling party for free tickets. The CPL 2019 is scheduled to be held in September and October, and given the large numbers of free tickets, which were shared out last year, there is going to be an expectation that this year again there will be freeness.
People have to support promotions. Otherwise, the promoters are not going to bring artistes and big tournaments to Guyana. The government therefore should resist this urge to continue to distribute free tickets, because people will look for freeness and not want to support the shows.
Guyana’s cultural industries, including sport, are not going to be developed if people are not prepared to support activities. They cannot always be looking for freeness and handouts. This is not the way in which our cultural industries are going to be developed.
Cricket World Cup is now being played. And persons are asking why it is that the government could not have procured the telecast rights for the state-owned television station so that the vast majority of the population who do not have access to cable television can see the matches.
Last month, the Indian Premier League, the most viewed T20 franchise in the world was held. Poor Guyanese in outlying areas were not able to see the matches because the state-owned television station did not air the tournament.
This would not have been freeness on the part of government. The cost of transmitting the matches can be recouped by advertisements.
The ruling party has opened up a Pandora’s Box by distributing free tickets. It will face increasing demands for more freeness whenever the next big artiste comes here.
And if the government and the ruling party cannot deliver that freeness in the future, it will end up attracting displeasure rather than support, because nothing irks a Guyanese more than to know that his neighbour or friend has a free ticket and he or she does not.
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