By GHK Lall
I think of the two areas above prioritised today, and they both contain what once stirred encouragement, but both of which now cause disturbances deep down. I start with the pluses.
Approximately five years ago, I had occasion to write about heavy rainfall in the Capital City, and how the floodwaters receded fairly quickly. This happened for about six months during the early days of the coalition government. I was encouraged by this, for the combination of efforts and expenses aimed at cleaning and clearing, as well as limited maintaining of our drainage outlets, showed reasonable results. The calls for discipline on the part of citizens in how they disposed of routine garbage were heeded to some extent, with pressure and follow-up on businesses to follow the rules and do their part.
All this worked for a brief interval, until things collapsed, and everyone returned to their regular ways. Central and local government, citizens and commercial interests, very rapidly, went back to the usual vulgarities of spending and squabbling (as to who is to blame), and littering and carrying on with the normal decaying behaviours and standards. Now, we are back to where we were, since then, to the same state. That is, billions are spent, with many countless arguments and curses following, and still more handwringing and wailing being part of the national ‘wake house’ that Guyana has become every time there is flooding, and on most other matters of sensitivity and importance. We are back to square one, if not worse, after all the debating and finger pointing. But, for one fleeting moment, there was the manifestation that, indeed, we can put our arms around flooding. At least for the short and intermediate terms, while a longer-term solution was put on the drawing board, and moved from there to delivery for relief. I regret that I cannot speak with the same familiarity of outlying areas, which are worse off from the pictures and reports of widespread devastations. I was encouraged that we could have gotten to higher, drier ground momentarily, due to the required energy, interest, and principles being harnessed and put to work. It is of what could have been, should have been in place by now, but is not. That is what disturbs, with no more to be said.
Relative to the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, I say these few words. It is encouraging that we have such a check and balance over how the cash of citizens is spent. I am encouraged that a start was made with drawing the line on the chair of this crucial committee, and to send him packing. But that is where the positives stop. For this translates to the unacceptable and the unnerving; the alarmingly disturbing.
First, there is no opposition presence on state boards and other oversight mechanisms to participate in the policing of how the business of those agencies is being conducted. It is all PPP-government handpicked loyalists, most of whom I wouldn’t trust to ask for directions across the street. Or to walk behind me in a tight alleyway, even in the daylight. Second, the replacement chair could sew the PAC, look, stock, and barrel in favour of the PPP government and its escapades with big-ticket projects and related spending. Third, this means with a virtual lame duck (at least numerically, for a start) opposition presence in parliament, what this society has is a situation where the whole apparatus and arrangement of governance is of a one-party reality, which is of a one-man tyranny, and with a one-result conclusion in just about everything of significance. Fourth, and relatedly, I don’t see how the opposition will consent to having a continued presence in the PAC, maybe even parliament.
What would be its purpose, other than to collect pay and duty-free concessions, and such? I have difficulty detecting how, if the opposition has any self-respect remaining, and after backing the ousted chair to the hilt, the coalition group could do otherwise. Cumulatively, this disturbs beyond words, beyond measure.
(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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