By GHK Lall
If not the worst, then the current devastating flooding ranks close to the highest level. It is that bad. I am encouraged that President Ali was frank on this one. Having agreed with the President that the present catastrophic flooding is grim, I am troubled that there is not more reaching out and involving every tier in society, including opposition leadership counterparts. When we acknowledge that there is a disaster of national proportions, then that demands a national response through a national effort with the national strength that comes from national oneness. It should be how this nation would respond for (God forbid) something as fearsome as war. This is what disturbs immensely, when efforts to detect any national linking of arms at a time like this result in failure. Those many billions to be borrowed have to be repaid by all the people, not winners only. It is time to govern, not separate. Genuine national leaders do so when they embrace opportunity that binds. Disastrous national flooding is such a moment.
Similarly, it was encouraging to read in KN on Monday last that the residents around the East Ruimveldt and East La Penitence area will benefit from almost finished upgrades to the markets of the same names. This was proudly announced by the Minister of Local Government, Nigel Dharamlall, when he shared the good news along with the $14M price tag. Good going! Mr. Minister. But I cannot help a disturbing thought that invades consciousness. Memory reminds that any projects and upgrades in those areas fall under the Mayor and City Council’s responsibilities. Unless something changed drastically, those two upgrades should have been overseen by the Georgetown municipal government, and not by the Local Government Ministry of central government. If I am, indeed, on the right track (and I believe so), then it is disturbing that central government engages in these ongoing intrusions into M&CC’s territory. I would think that central government has many other crucial matters to get involved in, and on which to focus more comprehensively and wisely, than to step into places that have their own longstanding municipal overseers. The time of both central government and municipal government would be much better sent, when each concentrates on delivering on mandates. When we have these parallel arrangements, they set poor precedents – even when good is achieved – and generate ideas on more usurpation to occur in other institutions, especially those sensitive ones in the wider state. Examples that come to mind include the state security apparatus and the domestic communications environment. Too much of these invasions and parallel concoctions, maybe any of them, disturbs, because they could lead to where they become the norm, while embodying the sinister from central government leadership.
Still another encouraging event that has potential (for disturbance, too) is that invitation to all investors in oil and gas to “partner with us,” as issued by the Hon. Minister of Natural Resources. That’s sweeping and warming, minister, and I am encouraged. But only when everybody benefits: citizens, the state, and investors. It should not escape attention that I did not include the governing and opposition parties or their leadership cohorts among the beneficiaries, and the descending order in which I prioritised who should benefit. Separately, the minister may be startled, but I would partner with any person, entity, group on most things for the benefit of all Guyanese. To be really clear: partner with any government, any leader, that is about this country foremost, and with what pass strict scrutiny. And just as clearly, I seek nothing for self, and such partnership must function along the cleanest, brightest lines. As the minister knows, there has been too much secrecy, trickery, and the dirty. This is what has disturbed, and I fear the minister’s encouraging invitation could deteriorate, in the usual fashion, to developments that disturb, and never stop doing so. Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat, should know full well of what I write. After all, he lives with the people and their skullduggeries. Partner with the right people in the right way for the right results. To the nation. That would encourage enormously.
(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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