Nov 30, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – It seems that every now and again, when the spirits take over, that Guyanese leaders and their supporters go public with lovely speeches. On this particular matter there is no division, no partisanship. It is that we, this vast beautiful Guyana of ours, could be the bread basket of the Caribbean.
The problem with that conditional couple of words (‘could be’) is that they speak of potential, another loaded word, of what could be, if certain things are brought together, and then leveraged to make something good happen. We all know some student who was bright as a star, but some demon grabbed hold of him, such as rum or racehorses, and that was the end of him, with all the potential good for nothing, and of what could have been, lost forever. It is the same dismal situation with a worker, who manifested having all the skills to be outstanding, rise head and shoulders above peers, only to fade into the shame and regret of not living up to potential, not doing good. In fact, always struggling even to make do with all the talents and gifts given, when that man or woman had the world in hand.
This is the now familiar story of Guyana. It has rich agricultural soils, and plenty of it. It has the right combination of climate features, which makes many varieties of crops possible. It has promise and brightness written all over its hundreds of thousands of square kilometres, and so much so that it has attracted the rapacious eyes of a covetous neighbour, and is the envy of its friends. This was before the discovery of a single barrel of oil, now adding up to billions upon billions, and more still to come.
Still this country has nothing to show for it. For all of its promise, it has been less than impressive, largely woefully underachieving, and this is under one government after the other, and one leader after another making stirring promises, yet falling flat on their foolish faces. Today is no exception, but merely a continuing of the rule. Every year and every budget many billions are identified for this and that, all good, in this or other place, and involving agriculture. Yet nothing on the plus side seems to result. It is like one of those wasteful cases where we all shake our heads and lament the unwisdom of throwing good money to chase after the bad.
Despite all the talk and all the years and their plans, now we are gearing up to go where we have not gone before. That is, spending for food in amounts that we have not known before (“Food import bill to hit record high -FAO warns as Guyana battles rising cost of living” (KN November 16). As the picture under the caption of our story noted, “Guyanese have been crying out about the high cost of living.” It seems that Guyanese are always crying about something. It could be a PPP or PNC Government that did not deliver on most of the promises made. It could be of fears that most of them will be left out, with nothing but cruelly dashed hopes and dreams, in the excitements of fabulous oil finds. But that is still unfolding, and although their prospects look bleak, Guyanese have to deal with the present.
Today, the ordinary Guyanese housewife and shopper are forced to deal with (just) getting by, though what we will term ‘scratching out a miserly existence.’ We have all this wealth, and we are still crying. Today, it is about prices, and the most immediate of price pinches in the pocket involves food. Food purchases from supermarkets or market vendors can only be held off for so long. And when the supply of basic items are limited and have to be imported, then there is more crying inevitably. Because we are now talking of record high food import bills in the cards, then struggling families are back to the perils of even higher prices, which are beyond the reach of minimum wage workers.
As we ponder over this, we wonder which is a more accurate description of Guyana’s potential: bread basket or basket case?
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