Jan 08, 2022 Editorial
Kaieteur News – Today, we are asking our fellow Guyanese to do a two-sided comparison, and when finished, ask them to make a conclusion. What we are asking of our fellow citizens is neither analysis nor study (too sophisticated), but something real and basic, to obtain an understanding of the way the world works, and where burning issues could lead and usually do. They should see a parallel, an ominous one, which makes this not only alarming, but timely.
First, we have oil and lots of it, with potentially an untold number of barrels of equivalent in the tune of billions, still undiscovered, and alongside this oil, we have other riches. So does another society that shall remain unnamed for the moment; and like us, their GDP [per capita] is among the highest. We have begun to reap some money in oil profits with more promised. So does this other place in the comparison, with one significant difference. That is, that we have yet to collect a billion from our fund held in the United States, while this other country has received many billions from its own oil.
Second, but still focusing mainly on this oil, while bearing in mind our other natural resource riches, there is an intensifying groundswell of dissatisfaction of how the rewards from this oil are being managed.
The dissatisfaction is driven by such factors as who gets jobs (and who don’t), who receives the huge contracts and contracts in general (and who don’t), and, in very general terms, who participates in the overall distribution of the national wealth (and who don’t). The other place has some of these issues and trouble resulted. We must be frank and call things as they are today. This is where Guyana is, close to, or heading to, but with increasing acceleration. And this is only a few short years since the discovery of oil by Exxon in our waters. To sum up, there are these huge disagreements that have led to heavy disappointments, which now point to how things could get in a hurry, if we don’t do things right, in the credible oversight and equitable distribution of this oil and other wealth. Tensions in the other society has already flared.
Third, the growing anger in this country stems from the perception and reality that the elites are living like kings, while the general unconnected population, the ones living at the lower end of the economic ladder, are condemned to get by, like dogs. This is what smoldered to explosive levels in the other society.
As an aside, we remind our fellow Guyanese that we have been pointing to, saying, and warning about these burning issues for many years, and we have cautioned repeatedly of where things could end, should leaders refuse to listen and take appropriate action.
It must be action that is early, sincere, comprehensive, fair, and meaningful. To this point, no leader has listened, and for our pains we have been attacked, demonised, and squeezed, among other ugly things. Since our messages are hated, the messenger becomes an easy, available whipping boy; and we have been targeted by lawsuits, internet sabotage, staff poaching, and so forth. Back to the comparison.
Fourth, a rise in fuel prices was the straw that broke the camel’s back in that other non-fictional place, and though the government promised to reverse the increase, it was too little too late. Today, we know about steep price pains in Guyana that cause much crying from ordinary Guyanese, while leaders and elites laugh and celebrate.
Fifth, this is where the rage is currently building here, exploded this very week, in that other unidentified place. People died, 1,000 got injured, 400 are hospitalised, and 2,000 are detained. There was significant property damage, mainly government buildings and the airport overpowered.
This happened in Kazakhstan this week. A place with billions of barrels in oil, 40 percent of the world’s uranium reserve, and fantastic GDP numbers (New York Times, January 6). Kazakhstan is a rich country (like Guyana), with unequal wealth distribution (like Guyana), and a super elite class (like Guyana). Kazakhstan has an arrogant government (like Guyana), and possibly destructive anger (like Guyana). We warn again of a possibly ominous parallel for Guyana.
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