Kaieteur News – The COVID-19 Containment Measures state that workers in the private sector ‘shall’ work on rotation as determined by their employers. But most private sector workers are not on rotation; they are required to work as normal.
For months, the same Measures had said that persons employed within the Public Service, a semi-autonomous agency or State-owned enterprise ‘shall’ work on rotation unless otherwise directed by their respective heads of ministry, agency or department. After this column pointed out that the government was breaching its own regulations, the language was changed to ‘may’ be directed to work on rotation by their respective heads.
Guyanese are reading about a gas-to-shore project for which there is no feasibility study specific to that particular project. However, the government is proceeding with haste to have it done, despite the criticisms.
The government is also resuscitating the Amaila Falls Hydroelectric Project even though an independent review by Norconsult, a Norwegian firm, had raised serious concerns over the credibility of the hydraulic data used in the feasibility study.
Norsonsult had said, “The hydrology for Amaila Falls Hydropower Project is not very well established since continuous series of direct flow measurements in Kuribrong River at the project site do not exist.” It recommended that before any new sponsor is appointed, that two to three years continuous data is obtained.
Yet, the Irfaan Ali regime is racing at breakneck speed to obtain expressions of interest despite the fact that the hydrology of this project has a huge question mark over it.
There has been strong criticism over the Production Sharing Agreement, which was inked between the APNU+AFC government and the oil companies. The deal short-changes the country. Yet, the government has refused to renegotiate the deal as provided for under the very contract.
Presently, the government is racing ahead with consultations on Guyana’s Nationally Determined Contributions under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Yet, the major international conference, COP26 is only two weeks away and the government appears to want to state its ambitions at that conference. But in utter contempt of the people, it is only this week engaging in consultations and with limited time for the selected participants to study the draft.
It is the same charade, which is taking place in respect to Local Content. There was much hype when a consultation was launched on a draft Local Content Policy. No doubt from the consultations, there would have been some revisions but we are not reading about any other major stakeholder consultation in the Local Content law. But we are being told that the Local Content law will be tabled later this year. So will the stakeholders be afforded to comment on the revised draft?
These issues expose one of the flaws of representative democracy. Every five years Guyanese decide who should rule them. But having elected a government, the people – including the supporters of the government – have no say in how they are ruled.
Liberal manifestation is supposed to be the preferred system of government. After all, it has been characterised as government of the people, by the people and for the people. Government of the people and by the people does not always mean that government is for the people.
Chatam House however still contends that democracy is still desirable. It is according to them, the means by which citizens are empowered to bring about change. In other word, if a government does not perform, the people can change that government. The mere possibility of being voted out is supposed to guard against excesses and force governments to act for the people… well at least in theory.
There was a time when this notion was questioned because it was felt that in ethnic polarised societies, where racial voting dominates, elections become ethnic censuses and do not put government on notice that if they do not perform, they can be voted out.
But this condition no longer exists. The ethnic arithmetic has changed and does allow for changes to government as was evident in the 2015 and 2020 elections.
This is why the attempt at rigging the elections was an ominous development. It was not as if the door was closed to the APNU+AFC being elected. But the attempt to rig demonstrated that there were forces bent on returning Guyana to a state in which there would never again be government of the people and by the people, and would remove the likelihood of the people keeping the government’s feet to the proverbial fire.
This is why no matter how much a people may lack the means to determine how they should be ruled, such a situation will always be better than an unelected dictatorship.
(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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