May 12, 2021 Letters
On 26 May this year, it will be 55 years since Guyana obtained its independence from Great Britain, and as customary, there will be much organised jubilation… But I would like to ask my fellow Guyanese brothers and sisters to reflect on just one of many egregious aspects of life in Guyana, which is being caused by intentional Government policy.
I recently saw another of the usual car dealership advertisements and I wondered whether any of the numerous people commenting on the Facebook advertisement actually knew how cheap those cars were at their origin in Japan. I would like readers to think for a moment that the USED car is actually worth from about USD2,000 to USD2,500 max. Then shipping or freight costs to Guyana amount to another USD1,700 max. So far, you’re probably thinking that you can save up in a year or so to acquire your own personal vehicle. Nope! Think again, because for some cruel and unusual reason the Guyana Government levies an unjustifiable tax upwards of USD5,000, which immediately makes something so simple as a used Toyota car out of reach. If you were doing the arithmetic and G$ conversation, you’ll still have to pause because it’s not over yet.
Local auto dealerships add a whopping markup of about USD3,000 for themselves. But it’s still not finished yet because working class people will take a loan from the commercial bank to buy this used car – which requires regular maintenance – and it will take five to six years to repay the loan, plus accrued interest of about USD6,000. I hope you have arrived at the final cost to you the consumer and taxpayer, because by now you should realise that it is so far beyond the actual value or worth of the car itself that it should raise serious moral questions about our leaders and how they view the people.
Now, I ask you, is there an alternative form of public transportation for our working class people, their families, children and our elderly? One that is modern, efficient and comfortable, such as trains, trams or standardised passenger buses? The answer is a resounding NO! Instead, what we have are vans known as minibuses that are NOT made for PUBLIC transport – the record of which has been harmful, dangerous and deadly. Our Governments clearly have neither the inclination nor concern for building and implementation of modern public transport infrastructure for our country and people.
In my view, the senior politicians of both governments, past and present, are either indifferent, cruel or sadistic as to exacerbate the hardships of the Guyanese working class population (who earn an average disposal income of USD300 per capita per month) by imposing millions of dollars in taxes on the cheapest cars in the world, in one of the poorest countries in the Hemisphere. Guyanese people cry out for change every day, year and decade, but vote for the same major political parties and recycled politicians every election. We must recognise that it is not the party or persons in government who matter, but the policies that affect our actual material circumstances or everyday lives. In other words, we must demand change of those basic things we need to have decent lives before we vote; and we should protest for the right reasons when necessary, like we did against the imposition parking taxes. We should always remember that the real political power lies in our hands.
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