American Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch, addressed the annual meeting of the Private Sector Commission with some candid words about some of the negative features of this land. She zeroed in on blackouts, corruption, bureaucratic slowness. All that the diplomat said were echoed before by dozens of her predecessors. Some of whom have probably gone to the great beyond and some of them are probably in very advanced age in the US.
But their reflections never changed a thing in Guyana. The decades come and go, the diplomats come and go, and Guyana remains the same – a tragic wasteland where time recedes back into the original black holes. The Ambassador pointed out that in the World Bank report for 2018, Guyana’s position on the ease of doing business here dropped from 126 in 2017 to 143 in 2018. Here is graphic, pellucid proof that the nation of Guyana receded in time and there is no optimism left to cling on to.
It is logical that a country keeps going higher on the indices of human progress but Guyana goes back in time. If in 2017, it was difficult for investors to be served in Guyana, then it is natural that if in 2017 there were 10 formidable obstacles, that number will be reduced the next year. On the contrary, in the next year, the obstacles move from 10 to 20. This is life in Guyana that the New York Times journalist Clifford Krauss visited last year and dismissed as a backward place.
The Ambassador’s observations were based on the kind of work she does in this country. She knows about corruption by visiting American investors. She knows the long time it takes to get a permit to buy land or acquire a work permit, because Americans in Guyana have told her about these negativities. But there are countless nightmares that characterise this blighted, cursed country that Mrs. Lynch will never see before she leaves here.
Mrs. Lynch will never encounter the miserable life that characterises this country, because her job does not take her down those pathways. She will never know how impossible it is to get your kid transferred from one public school to the other. She will never experience the months of frustration for just a simple transaction at the Guyana Revenue Authority. When Guyanese tell Mrs. Lynch the waiting hours just to apply for a renewal of one’s driver’s licence, she will probably email her bosses in Washington, D.C asking for an immediate transfer.
Has the Ambassador ever heard about an important agency named Central Housing and Planning Authority, where no housing plan is approved within a year of submission, and if you get your permit within a year then you are lucky. It is virtually impossible to make telephonic contact with any officer in that agency. Does the Ambassador know that to build a house in Georgetown, you have to secure acceptance of your plan by the City Engineer of the City Council and approval is never given less than two years from the date of submission of plan.
Has the diplomat been told by Guyanese how the NIS treats claimants and pensioners? As if they are beggars to be mistreated? Does the Ambassador know the length of time GPL responds to a sparking electrical wire on a utility pole? Does she have any idea how erratic and sadistic is the GWI billing system, whereby your bill can jump from $3000 to $10,000 within a three-month span, and you are told you have to pay it.
This columnist was saddled with a bill for $30,000 for three months, when my payment was always $2,900 monthly. My wife asked me not to get into a confrontation but pay. For a household of a man and wife to use $10,000 in water each month meant I had to waste over a hundred black tanks of water each day.
Does the Ambassador know how important the internet is? The answer is yes, obviously. However, in Guyana, you can be without internet service for weeks despite reporting your fault on the day it happened. The telephone company is very reluctant to visit your home to repair a landline. Your best bet is to pay a GTT employee privately to fix the thing. Does the Ambassador know it is virtually impossible to get an answer from a 911 call? This is the part of Guyana that Mrs. Lynch will never see because of the nature of her job.
Finally, given the poor conditions in Guyana, has the Ambassador seen the luxury vehicles the ministers and high level state bosses drive?
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