By GHK Lall
Kaieteur News – I am encouraged by the impressive numbers released as part of the Mid-Year Report by the Ministry of Finance. It is numbers, numbers, numbers all around, and on the positive side. Among the stats is GDP growth of 14.5%, increases in the rice (7.8%), and mining (23.1) (ex-gold and bauxite) sectors on a comparative 2020-21 basis. This is more notable, because of the severe effects of an ongoing pandemic, and a receding national flood. I say good going. I would be less than balanced, if I do not refer to both the then new pandemic fears and raging elections ones, which brought many areas to a near standstill. As such, it could be argued, and I do, that there is the point to be made that almost anything would look highly favourable for the first half of this year, when compared to the corresponding period in 2021. Still, I will not take away anything from the numbers, and say well done, and encouraging. It should be noted that I have skipped the ballooning petroleum sector, plus the increases mentioned in manufacturing activity.
I would be slack, if I didn’t point out that inflation looks worrying, but is deemed to be “transitory” which time will confirm one way or another. With all this expanding activity in most sectors, I don’t see how that can hold. And, on another not so positive note, with all this stirring upside recorded, there is still clamour about far from enough local content involvement, and stubborn unemployment levels. Last, on this one, despite all these pluses, the small man – worker, shopper, consumer – is somehow not yet tasting the upside, through a less difficult trial in daily life.
The second encouragement that came was that Guyana is drawing closer to having in place a legal structure guiding organ donor/transplant situations. It is needed, and the GHPC’s Dr. Kishore Persaud, Head of Department, Multi-Organ Transplant and Vascular Access Surgery, is spearheading the push in this direction. According to a KN article of October 6t, which quoted Dr. Persaud, there are “at least 250 patients with kidney disease patients on treatment and 30 patients on the list for immediate transplant.” Any relief from the suffering and financial burdens would make a difference, and it is encouraging that Dr. Persaud has found reception with Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, SC., who plans moving forward with a bill before parliament to provide “legislation governing, authorising, and regulating” both aspects, donor and recipient, in such medical episodes. I see this as encouraging, since any legislation finalised would also apply to transplants involving other vital organs. Now let it be on the books, so that urgently needed transplants can go forward, as soon as is practical.
Next, sugar workers at Skeldon and Canje are each to receive a $250,000 cash grant. Though, on the face of it, it is an encouraging development, I make this clear: I don’t agree with this announcement by the Vice President acting on behalf of his government. Seven thousand workers and their families, a sizable voter constituent, are sure to take offense at my take. But I stand firm: a business decision was made, many think it was a harsh political one, and the state of sugar industry itself, despite all the marketing glow, has a long way to go to be a marginally productive sector, if at all. This is a slick reworking of that much talked about million per man from the prior administration, only today, it is for a smaller, carefully segregated, segment, for this quarter million-dollar bait dangled to sugarcoat the pain of the knife twisted: the same job loss that the Coalition finalised. Today’s quarter million-dollar ‘gift’ to sugar workers is acknowledgement of where sugar is, and it reminds of the wasteful extravagance of the same big political figure, and the Skeldon Factory, now a proven white elephant, which benefited only thieving PPP leaders and cronies.
Last, I encourage fellow citizens, please get vaccinated. Safeguard self and family. Safeguard us. Give all of us a better chance, a fighting one.
(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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