Kaieteur News – The President is a man of his word. He continues to deliver on his promises. He promised that he would be inclusive and, on Tuesday, he met with representatives of some Opposition political parties, many of whom lack any real support or have any meaningful constituency.
However, a promise is a promise and it had to be kept, regardless of whether the COVID-19 numbers are rising. Everyone donned masks while sitting at the lunch table, and most likely would have taken off those masks to eat, without having to change positions.
The APNU+AFC was not present and did not deserve to be present. What was attempted between March and July of 2020 would in some countries result in a permanent ban from any future participation in local politics.
Those who voted for a party, which attempted to steal the 2020 elections by bed sheet, spreadsheet and then by slip-sheets, deserve better than the leaders with whom they are saddled. These leaders have the temerity to describe the President Irfaan Ali government as illegitimate.
The President should not lose any sleep about not meeting with the main Opposition. Until such time as they are prepared to repent for what was done, they should have no place at any discussion or negotiation table with the government. Every effort should be made to hold them accountable for their actions including insisting that the visa restrictions become permanent bans on travel to the US.
The political parties who attended Tuesday’s meeting can be described as neoliberal. There is a self-declared, non-neoliberal political party, which appears every election season and then disappears afterwards. The party did not appear to have been invited to the meeting. The President was thus essentially meeting with parties, which have the same ideological wavelength as his party.
There has been no condemnation from any of those parties over the PPP/C’s failure to renegotiate the oil agreements. Neoliberals would find the concept of the sanctity of contracts extremely appealing.
There have been no protests over the review process which was initiated and which led to the Payara permit. There will be no calls for higher royalties and the rolling back of concessions.
These consultations should not be cosmetic. There should be a fixed agenda and it is hoped that at that first meeting there would have been agreement for other meetings. The PPP/C is good at the optics and, if past record is anything to judge by, the parties are not likely to set foot in State House for the rest of the year.
The Senior Minister in the Ministry of the Presidency was present (the country for the first time since Independence does not have a Minister of Finance) suggesting that an informal consultation was on the Budget. It has been a practice of the PPP/C administration to have these cosmetic consultations so that it can be claimed that the Budget benefitted from consultations.
Consultations are a neoliberalism. It creates what is known as policy buy-ins. One of the policies championed by neo-liberalists is a reduced role for government in the economy. It would be interesting to know how many of those present at that meeting actually proposed the slashing of the size of government. It costs taxpayers G$500M a day just to keep the public bureaucracy going. No wonder so little is available for capital works.
Neoliberalism also favours reduced government spending on subsidies, and allowing the market to set rates whether it relates to the price of goods or salaries. Yet, it is likely that many of those present would join the private sector in supporting increases in the income tax threshold, which is simply a measure, which allows government to subsidize private sector wage increases.
Neoliberals would be demanding that the government stop crowding out the private sector. Is this not what the government is doing when it undertakes projects on its own such as road building and repairs? The state media is a competitor for ads and for reach with the private sector. Is the size of the state media and the attractive salaries, which it offers to woo media personnel from the private media, not indicative of crowding out the private sector?
Those parties which were present at Tuesday’s consultations have little new to offer. They are all on the same ideological wavelength as the government. They are birds of the same feather.
(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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