Kaieteur News – Senior journalist at this newspaper, Kiana Wilburg, published a letter in this paper yesterday in which she wrote, “I have noticed that there are some individuals such as the prolific Professor Clive Thomas, whose written commentary on the oil sector, contains on some occasions, indirect disparagements regarding the work of this newspaper. In some instances, they do come across hostile.”
I find two interesting dimensions about that letter; one is the use of the word hostile, the other is that the hostility stems from Thomas’ writings on oil. In relation to oil, I am not aware that in his long career as a researcher, Professor Thomas has done any study on the petroleum industry. I think I can go so far as to say he has no expertise on the subject. I suspect for this reason, his government, APNU+AFC, never tasked him with an oil project but assigned him to an area where he has a voluminous output – sugar. He was chairman of GuySuCo.
This does not preclude him of course from adding his two cents to the debate. I am more concerned with the use of the word, “hostile.” I suspect the journalist may be referring to the last two lines in his Sunday column that went like this, “Given the noise and nonsense echo chamber’s dismissive comparisons Guyana’s fiscal regime and Suriname’s ….”
I will answer my own question; why the hostility? I believe Professor Thomas has killed his legacy. It is not partially damaged; it is dead. What Professor Thomas may be doing is seeking the resuscitation of his credibility by his so-called expertise on oil and his attacks on this newspaper. The loss of credibility is worth documenting. Thomas’ party, the WPA, was part of the government of Guyana from May 2015 – July 2020. In that period, Thomas’ government performed terribly and Thomas’ balance sheet in that period has destroyed his legacy.
SARA – It was Thomas himself that said shortly after APNU came to power that over $100 billion may have been lost in corrupt avarice during the reign of presidents Jagdeo and Ramotar. Thomas was appointed as the hunter of that colossal sum. SARA under Thomas turned out to be a humiliating failure with Thomas not coming even close to finding out where $100 million went much less $100 billion.
SUGAR – Thomas was made chairman of GuySuCo. Sugar devastated Thomas’ legacy. This was sad because he wrote so much on sugar that it was expected that he had knowledge of the industry. Not only were 7,000 workers and their families (about 28,000) put on the breadline, but Thomas’ government refused to legally compensate these souls resulting in court cases that the sugar workers won.
$5000 AMERICAN – Thomas went to Buxton, again in search of lost credibility and regained some of it when he told a Buxton meeting that the state should donate $5000 American in cash to poor Guyanese. Working class organizations embraced the opportunistic moment of Thomas. But Thomas’ own government resisted the promise only giving it token recognition during the 2020 election campaign.
GRANGER’S NEOLIBERALISM -The little credibility he got from Buxton melted like butter against the sun, as my mother used to say. A series of anti-working class policies were pursued by his government, some were very infamous – VAT on electricity, water, education fees; hike on taxes on an ocean of items; banned used tyres; ban on cars older than eight years; refusal to reexamine the draconian aspects of the law relating to marijuana; sweet-heart deals for some companies his party; the WPA, criticized when in opposition; Granger’s edict to youths that the role of the state is not to provide employment; no substantial increase in public salaries; refusal to raise the age of retirement for public servants; SARA’s payout of a monthly rental of millions for its head office from a rich family.
THOMAS’ STABROEK NEWS COLUMN – Commissioned to do a weekly column on economics, Thomas waxed lyrical on the autocracy and corruptibility of the PPP government in his pieces, devoting several columns to describing the operation of what he referred to as the “criminalized state” under the PPP. His SN offerings consisted more of politics than economics from 2011 onwards. He could be excused for not writing against his government between 2015-2020. But one expected at least a few lines on the controversy that has currently enveloped James Bond. I doubt he will touch the subject.
THE DEATH OF THE WPA – The 2020 election rigging marked the final stage in the degeneracy of the WPA. Thomas remained silent while his WPA “Rodneyite” colleagues openly endorsed election rigging causing Walter Rodney to turn in his grave. Thomas courted self-destruction from 2015. It has drowned him.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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