Kaieteur News – Ms. Isabelle DeCaires and Professor Percy Hintzen have written some terribly misleading stuff about Guyana recently that need to be countered before the naïve and gullible accept them.
I quote from Ms. DeCaires: “We are fearful of antagonising the powers that be (BIG OIL currently) in case they leave. So what if they do? Others will come in their place. We have assets that are currently much prized on the international market. We must show backbone and gumption in seeking the appropriate value for all of them, from our oil and gas to our forests.”
The emphasis here should be on “others will come.” Since sugar and bauxite in British Guiana, “the others” have not come. The Pegasus Hotel built before Independence could not be rated as a world class investment.
When Hoyte de-Burnhamized the economy, we had GTT, Barama and Omai. None of them were substantial in a comparative context, meaning the Third World and in Jamaica and Trinidad.
In the 1950s Guyana had a GNP and GDP that were higher than Malaysia. It would take hundreds of years for us to catch up with Malaysia. Guyana has never been a known country in the Third World to attract huge investments from major companies in the entire world.
From Hoyte to Jagdeo, Guyana never received substantial investment by foreign companies that had transformational potential. That has been the post-Independence history of Guyana.
For Ms. DeCaires to assert what she mouthed off is tantamount to nonsense. If we had assets that are prized on the international market then only EXXON had knowledge of that because no global invester in those assets came before and after EXXON.
In fact, the five year period of a new government from 2015 to 2020 brought absolutely no serious foreign investment. As far as I have been told, Ms. DeCaires does not live in Guyana, holds residency of the UK, and has long left these shores.
I believe she does not speak even for a small percentage of Guyanese who have lived their lives in this country hoping every day that foreign investors would come and Guyanese can shape a sound future that has been so long denied.
The irritating thing about Guyanese who have long gone is that they have not suffered the pangs of underdevelopment but on the contrary enjoyed and continue to enjoy life in post-modern capitalist countries.
They have no moral right to tell Guyanese we should keep our resources in the ground because we are blessed with resources that foreign companies are eager to come to Guyana to get.
When I was young I read everywhere that our cricketer, Carl Hooper was a special talent never seen before. But he never realized that talent. I always remember Hooper when I hear how much resources my country has.
But I spent 26 years teaching at UG and never saw those resources coming to fruition to benefit UG and my country. We, lecturers would beg our contacts in the private sector for printing paper to print handouts for our students.
Isabelle DeCaires is not alone in enjoying life in the developed world but tell us what we in Guyana should do. Here is what Professor Percy Hintzen wrote recently about Guyana: “Our intent is to repeat the pattern of exporting our raw crude so that we can import useable fuel produced and marketed by a foreign conglomerate. And we think this is our path to our illusory good life.”
Professor Hintzen, a Guyanese who taught at UG, left Guyana in the late seventies. He spent more than forty years living and working in the US, a country whose devouring of fossil fuel products combined the intake of rest of the world.
He, like DeCaires, does not live in Guyana but he lectures us on the shape of our economy. He developed himself in another country where he is comfortable enough to tell Guyanese how they should approach nation-building.
But he never shared in the pangs of nation-building when Guyana’s abundant resources were still in the ground and those of us who lectured at UG did not have printing paper to make handouts to use in the classroom. At that time Percy had gone to Berkley University in California where printing paper at the university was probably free.
Let me close with a confession. I have a prolonged problem with people who have enjoyed the resources of fossil fuel based economies all their lives and now discover that fossil fuel needs to be phased out and Guyana should help in leading the way. No problem with that. But why aren’t they living in Guyana?
(The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not this newspaper.)
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