There is an incessant outpouring of dissatisfaction and helplessness coming out of Guyana. Almost on a daily basis, acts of official corruption, systematic mediocrity and waste of taxpayers’ money are being highlighted in the media. And almost always, invariably, the response is a Commission of Inquiry, a piecemeal approach of delay before any serious action, if any, is taken.
From Airport to Agriculture; from Police to Public Infrastructure; from Hospital to Housing … the list goes on ad nauseam. There seems to be no end in sight or any solutions to the problems facing the country from this administration.
For decades, billions of dollars have been wasted on several projects many of which have become white elephants like the Glass Factory, the Skeldon Sugar Factory, the Amaila Falls hydro-project, Fiber Optic Cable from Brazil, the D’Urban Park Stadium, the Drug Storage Bond in Charlestown and other ill-fated programmes like National Service and ‘One laptop per family.’
In addition, billions of taxpayers’ money is being spent on frivolous and questionable ventures that make no sense to the general public. Today this phenomenon is further compounded by the perpetual bickering between the two major parties, with both taking their respective hardline stances. The country suffers: people get confused, racial tensions escalate and business recedes.
It would be rather superfluous to add to the debate arising from the Production Sharing Agreement of the Exxon oil contract; however, my analysis serves to pinpoint two profound aspects of the contract.
Firstly, the agreement indicates that Guyana will be getting a percentage of the oil extracted (which it has to sell itself). Guyana will be getting actual dollars from the two percent royalty!
Secondly, the bulk of the awarding of the oil blocks were undertaken by the Geology and Mines Commission — an entity that has no thorough understanding or proper knowledge of oil, since it has never performed any related functions!
Thirdly, none of the attorneys (whose input was at best superficial) who ‘negotiated’ the contract had any technical and financial expertise in the oil industry. Aside from these problems, there are more. Efforts to sell the four closed sugar estates have not materialized, which means that these estates are currently sitting idle and are condemned to certain death.
The country’s problems continue to mount as the City continues to flood after heavy downpours despite the spending of hundreds of millions of dollars on infrastructure to prevent such flooding which has become a perennial problem. Also, efforts to alleviate the massive traffic problems on the East Bank and East Coast of Demerara highways seem to be at a standstill.
At the same time the government is spending US$150 million to renovate the airport when that amount was earmarked by the previous administration for a new two-storey airport building with modern facilities. And to add insult to injury, the Minister of Public Infrastructure, and by extension the government, has refused to make its renovated plans available to the general public.
The sheer incompetence of the current and past leaders, surrounded by their respective cliques, continues to make Guyana a comical, corrupt and poorer nation. Some have even suggested that our politicians have made our beloved country the laughing stock of the Caribbean and the world. Feed, Clothe and House the nation was the late Forbes Burnham’s clarion call to make Guyana a truly independent country, but sadly it has failed.
It is rather sad to say that after 53 years of independence and with all the modern technology available, the land of many waters still cannot provide enough potable water for all its citizens or electricity without blackouts. The installation of black tanks on the roofs of houses throughout the country to store water and power generators to stem the daily blackouts sanctified the old saying that in order to get milk one has to own his or her own cow.
Today, the nation’s future hangs in the balance with the passage of the no-confidence motion in Parliament on December 21, 2018 and upheld by the CCJ. The umpire’s finger is up, but the Coalition batsman refuses to leave the wicket…. Instead, the government has sunk its claws deeper into the limbs of power. This could only happen in a failed state like Guyana.
Leyland Chitlall Roopnaraine
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