Jun 14, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – Guyana is getting better at engagements that are called ‘public consultation’. Better should not be misinterpreted as any political attitude, interest, or intent at a more credible result. In the instances of the public consultations going on in Guyana, as piloted by governmental agencies, better has come to mean one thing only.
There is more of it. With regard to substances and conclusions of these public consultations, the best that can be said is that it may have been better for us not to have had them, given what has been the result, and with a view to future expectations.
We at this publication must be unequivocal upfront: we are for public consultations on how the government’s business is conducted, since it is the business of the people to be involved, and in the know. That is, to know as much as they can, and to participate fully, and then come up with the kind of results that matter. The results which confirm that there was true consultation, that there was actual listening, and there was respect for what was shared, relative to fears and anxieties, about dangers and about welfare, and about present and future. But we can and will only be for public consultations that are genuine, and that live up to that perception, through engagement in a process that is credible, with still more credible outcomes. If not, then what Guyanese have for public consultations is nothing but a farce, the going through the motions to produce a record of proceedings that were jiggered from the start.
As should be clear by now, we are skeptical about these shams that are identified as public consultations, and on just about everything that the leaders of the current government have the brazenness to say is so. There has been too much hesitation, followed by too much haziness, and then the usual decisions that confirm these public consultations are no more than a public relations exercise that is a one-way street. It is a street that unfolds in a single direction only.
First, make a big noise that consultations on this or that are scheduled to happen. Next, make sure that everybody knows, by covering all the required steps, including media announcements.
Then, hold open forums, where there is opportunity to attend, and voices heard. This is supported by invitation to submit written positions, including objections with justifications. Continue away from the public gaze in agency offices with official reviews of all that came before, and as gathered.
And after analysis, then decide on how to proceed, with disclosure following on the heels of where all the submissions, discussions led.
When the above are complied with, then there is hope that right will be done, and the right result will be forthcoming: process genuine. Yet, for some strange reason, this has not been, and more often than not. It has happened with oil and gas. It has been the same story with electoral reform. This is almost the norm with the all-important Guyana Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
We know that we have oil, and that a costly gas-to-shore project is on the cards. But look beyond that, and it becomes obvious that the Guyanese people, the ones who actually own these things know less than they should know, with little of anything that means something. With regard to this great national wealth, the citizens of this nation have to content themselves with whatever skimpy information leaders give them, and nothing else.
They have nothing on which to go, and when public consultations have been part of the fraud, it has always favoured either local companies or foreign ones that endanger our communities and people, that enrich themselves, and impoverish citizens. Think gas flaring, fishing, noise, and health for starters.
Which company has been rejected, declared unhealthy? And that is the same thing that was done with electoral reform. The VP said that the government consulted, and it is moving on. It is the sum of government’s recklessness.
This is how much Guyanese matter, and on the bigger things today. It is why the EPA is looked upon so scornfully, one government puppet among many others. The joke is on Guyanese, and of that, we will have no part.
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