Mar 31, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – The President himself promised, indeed made a stirring commitment, to be about transparency on how the business of the people is carried out. By any standard, his government has been a study in the opposite: instead of transparency, secrecy has been the order of the day, and on just about everything that is important to the citizens of this society, who have used and misused as they are kicked from pillar to post, by one government after another.
A news item we carried on Sunday last informed the Guyanese people that there has “not been a single post-cabinet press briefing held in eight months of the new Govt.” That fact tells a story all by itself, with some chapters delivering a warning, and mostly of the way things have been, and promise to be in the times ahead.
The days are different, but the story is always the same: hiding and deceiving; giving mostly what is about less than the whole truth, if any truth at all. This no longer new PPP government is a textbook instance of excellence in such contrivances. It has gotten so good at withholding and misleading that it cannot be bettered locally, perhaps anywhere.
Of necessity, Cabinet meetings and discussions are largely a carefully controlled affair; they must be as to the intricacies underpinning the pros and cons, the give and take, the hard decisions taken and those that could not be, because they were found untimely, or too costly, or lacking in governance propriety. Such nuts-and-bolts elements cannot be expected to be made public, which is why the overall deliberations of some Cabinet gatherings are stamped secret, and are so closely held. However, there must be some things that the Cabinet, standing in governance of this country, must have to share with citizens, to lay out clearly and accurately, and to present the substance of how the business of the people is being handled.
Currently with the oil, all the frenzy, it is largely unlikely that oil and gas matters will not feature prominently in just about every Cabinet meeting. There is so much – almost everything – in this country that hinges upon the glittering prospects of oil, the principled management of our oil endowments, and the ongoing points of developments in one oil project after another. For those areas alone, that sector alone and all of the associated components, should be part and parcel of what was analyzed, reviewed, and decided upon at one of the highest levels in this land. That would be the Cabinet, and it is why we at this publication believe and insist that there ought to have been post-Cabinet press briefings, a continuing stream of them, in the past eight months to inform and educate Guyanese as to where things stand.
The leaders of the PPP government, meaning the President and the Vice President, cannot share what they want to share, when they feel like doing so, and how it pleases them to do so. That is, in a manner that is more of concealing and withholding than coming clean and delivering what is really happening. This is speaking of oil only, which is at the top of the pyramid of the nation’s gaze, and at the center of its concentrated interest. There are so many other areas that follow the same secret pathways chosen repeatedly by the leaders of the PPP government. The extent of our natural resources management, and in its entirety. The vastness of borrowings contemplated and already rushing forward for the receipt of many billions, it seems from everywhere. The essence of the usages of those billions cannot be limited to a flashy line or two at the most.
There is so much more that can be dredged up and parked before Guyanese to peer at, but what we have laid on the table is more than enough. We do not ask for more riddles and evasions, should it be finally decided that post-Cabinet briefings would occur. There cannot be the characteristic speaking in tongues by leaders.
Post-Cabinet press briefings must clear the air on the issues that mean much to this small nation. Many Guyanese wonder whether they exist in the middle of a mirage, so mystifying are the actions of their government. Clarity is what they need, to comfort them. More information is better, less is not good at all, and simply opens the door to a world of speculation and terrible conclusions. When no information is forthcoming via post-cabinet briefings, then constructive minds wend their way into undesired places. When there are no opportunities for questions to be presented and honest answers to be given, then silence and darkness speak for themselves.
This is not of democratic governance practices. It is of governance by the few for the fewest. If there is nothing to fear, then there is nothing to shrink from, nothing to hide. Post-cabinet press briefings are about having the courage and character to face the people, through the Fourth Estate, and say to them: this is what we are doing, and this is where we are.
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