Jun 11, 2021 Letters
Reference is made to the letter titled, “What qualification does one need to contribute/discuss/debate issues of national importance” by Joel Bhagwandin (June 9).
No formal or credentialed qualification is required to pen or reply to a letter. There are individuals who never went to university but write extremely well; several write in all the media and I don’t wish to identify their names. They don’t pretend to be university educated. They don’t challenge the competence and skill of those more endowed. They self-study and learn from critiques of others more intellectually endowed than them. They seek to master a subject matter with assistance from those more competent in the field. They are humble. They are not arrogant. All of those qualities were missing in the retort and rejoinder of Joel Bhagwandin whose writings are replete with arrogance.
The subject of tax is a technical issue as is the contract with Exxon. I am far from being a specialist in the fields although I have some background in both. Dr. Ganga Ramdas is an economist and a foremost tax specialist. He also has a quantitative background. His doctoral dissertation is on tax; that is his specialisation. His MA also focused on taxation. He worked at the Bank of Guyana and Ministry of Finance and was also appointed to the IMF and World Bank by Dr. Jagan during the early 1990s. Dr. Ramdas is a foremost authority in taxation. It is out of Bhagwandin’s league to question or derogate Dr. Ramdas background and expertise.
All that Dr. Ramdas penned was that if Exxon were to pay corporate tax for 2020, Guyana would be US$62M richer (probably much more if there is an audit of Exxon’s expense) for 2020. And that amount of taxes would allow each of our pensioners to receive US$2,200 per annum with a lot left over. It is noted that Exxon pays corporate tax to the US (home base) from its earnings in Guyana but no tax to Guyana. Is that fair? A new international agreement is being worked out among the G7 countries in which Exxon would have to pay the US a minimum 15 percent tax in its profits earned in Guyana.
I am no writing scholar. But on writing skills, Dr. Ramdas is flawless, almost to the point of perfection. This is not coincidental. He has sound academic training. He completed an undergraduate degree (BA) at a university with sit in classes amongst other students, all of whom learn from one another – a background that is not possible through the on-line medium of instruction.
Like Dr. Ramdas, I too did traditional studies in the US before re-migrating to Guyana. It is the norm in a traditional university setting in the Caribbean to successfully complete between 30 and 40 in class courses that meet between two to six hours a week for 14 weeks to earn a BA degree. Some colleges in America require more. For the MA, a minimum 10 courses, in class, sit in, are required plus a long paper or a thesis and a comprehensive exam. For the doctorate, an additional 10 courses are mandatory plus comprehensive exams and a two-year dissertation. Dr. Ramdas educational qualification is rock solid. In addition, he taught Economics for some three decades. Joel Bhagwandin is not competent to assess Dr. Ramdas’s argument, characterising it as weak, that Exxon is not paying taxes. Bhagwandin did not follow the hard academic training of Dr. Ramdas for earned degrees.
Let us look at Joel Bhagwandin’s educational background. Bhagwandin is yet to reveal where he got his BA degree, a pre-requisite for admission for graduate studies at a traditional university. Is it that he does not have one? He said he did long distance MA at a university in UK. That university admits students based on work experience and life maturity. We don’t know course requirements and examination standards for the MA as in traditional universities. Bhagwandin says he enrolled for the PhD at another college that awards a doctorate based on one’s writings. The number of Guyanese who would qualify for such PhDs would not fit in a book. It is like giving away PhDs. Much credence is not given to those kinds of degrees.
Bhagwandin states that he also attended various other universities like Cambridge, Columbia, etc. He does not say in what capacity. Students of other universities attend other institutions, but they mean virtually nothing. I also attended Harvard, Columbia, Princeton, and Oxford. But I never cite them in my qualifications because they don’t lead to a degree certification from these prestigious institutions.
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