Sep 13, 2022 Editorial
When we say that Guyanese are struggling to manage with daily living in this country, the PPP/C Government, its leaders, and its loyalists all give short thrift to such positions. We wonder and wait to see what the reaction of the Government will be now that the United Nations has pinpointed in a recent report that we are doing poorly (“39% of Guyanese intensely deprived of basic needs – UN 2022 Report” – KN September 10).
This is bad news, and there can be no wishing away of it, or spinning and repacking this into the usual deceptions. The high-level summary of the UN 2022 Report covers concerns in such areas as nutrition, education, energy, and housing, among others. Nutrition (24.5%), housing (11.6%), and electricity (8.8%) took hard hits in the UN’s measurements. The numbers are revealing in that they touch upon poverty, health, and standard of living that would startle many citizens of this country.
As examples, 11.6% of homes in Guyana are made from mud in a 21st century society; some have a 30-minute roundtrip to access drinking water; and that overall multidimensional poverty stood at 29.2%. In its simplest description, multidimensional poverty encircles the deficits in food, shelter, schooling, general health, and living standards.
It is our hope that this serves as a wakeup call to the PPP/C Government and its leaders, and that the national political opposition comes to grips with the troubling state in which many Guyanese are forced to live. The news is awash with breast-beating reports of how much is being done, and how well Guyanese are doing. Yet there are the developments that cannot be denied, nor can they be easily excused away or covered over under the COVID-19 pandemic and the constant finger-pointing over the Coalition Government’s mismanagements during its time in office.
For sure, there are some truths to both of those objects being made into sources of responsibility for where our citizens are. Similarly, it is fully understood that this country is in a hole and that Rome wasn’t built in a day. In other words, there is much ground to cover, and these things take time. Nonetheless, when the amount of money spent over recent years (only) is totalled and put under sharp, honest scrutiny, what is reported by the UN just should not be, far from it.
In the national budgets of the last three years, US$885M was set aside for healthcare alone, so why are we still talking about dilapidated facilities, and depressing standards in New Amsterdam, Linden, and the flagship Georgetown Hospital?
The UN 2022 report should not have any grounds on which to speak of deficiencies regarding the health situation of citizens in Guyana. The UN 2022 Report identified nutrition as an area of concern, but we have such a large food import bill, and leader after leader never cease to delight in talking about this country being the bread-basket of the region, while making themselves into the laughingstock of locals and outsiders.
Presently, this country rightly basks in the glow of outstanding CSEC and CAPE results, with our top tier students being among the best in the Caribbean. But there is the unstated underbelly, as noted in the UN Report, where almost 10% of Guyanese students have not had the level of education that they should have. Rather startlingly, education accounted for 23% of Guyana’s multidimensional poverty. Our sick citizens suffer, while our young are being left behind, and this is despite the health and education sectors being among the biggest recipients of national budget billions. It is either that the UN misinterpreted the local situation on the ground, or is mistaken in its numbers. It is that, or that what the PPP/C Government puts forward as ribbons and wrappers in terms of big dollars spent to improve Guyanese existence is going into a bottomless black hole of squandering and corruption. We have to be getting more for our tax dollars, but we always seem to be getting lesser and lesser from each new government. The UN 2022 Report can hold its own because many Guyanese know that it is about facts and not propaganda. It is of hard and known truths, and not sleazy deceptions.
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