Latest update June 2nd, 2023 12:49 AM
Mar 31, 2023 Letters
A letter writer named Joel Bhagwandin unleashed an unjustified attack on reputable civic activist Chris Ram (Mar 29) over his views on shortage of foreign exchange. It was a puerile attempt to lecture veteran socio-economic commentator Ram on economic matters. Bhagwandin, himself, has exhibited very shallow understanding of heavy loaded concepts like micro-economics, macro-economics, currency exchange, role of Central Bank, etc. His lecturing to Chris Ram reeks of arrogance, and Bhagwandin himself has not shown that he understands these very complex concepts.
Ram has distinguished himself as an accomplished and intellectual and fearless civil society activist. He and Glen Lall, among a handful of others, have stood out for consistently speaking against corruption involving the oil contracts and the low 2% royalty. Chris Ram is a towering personality in the annals of contemporary Guyanese history. He speaks his mind and champions against wrongdoing and injustice. He is not a government troll and is not on payroll of government. Unlike Bhagwandin, he does not sit on a government board. On this note, Bhagwandin sits as a paid agent on the Procurement Commission.
Ram cannot be bought out with any state appointment. He has consistently combated electoral fraud and corruption and paid dearly for his independent position and viewpoints. He was attacked and victimised by governments for his independent position. Unlike Ram, Joel Bhagwandin was not at any protests or marches against electoral fraud or against the paid Parking Meters protests or against some other form of injustice. Chris Ram was in the forefront of combating the 2020 electoral fraud: Bhagwandin was nowhere on the scene.
It has come to public attention that someone with the name ‘Bhagwandin’ pursued then Finance Minister Winston Jordan for a job at the Central Bank during the tenure of the coalition. I don’t know if it is the same Joel Bhagwandin who attacked Ram. It is amazing how people change colors when government changes; hired guns will do the bidding of anyone and attack anyone of repute. Under this administration, trolls are hired to attack anyone who disagrees with the government. They have been attacking Glenn Lall, Chris Ram, and others who challenge government’s policies. Bhagwandin himself had slammed Lall.
I don’t think Bhagwandin is qualified to lecture Ram on economic matters. Ram is an accomplished academic. He went through a rigorous course of studies in England and UWI St. Augustine to become a distinguished Accountant. He did an undergraduate degree and post-graduate studies in Accounting and Bookkeeping as well as obtained a law degree through UG and UWI. One can equate him in the same category as Anil Nandlall and Nigel Hughes in the field of law. He was a lawyer in the ‘No Confidence Motion’ matter as well as the case pertaining to the illegal appointment of James Patterson and those relating to the count and recount of votes in the 2020 elections. Ram also demonstrated competence on Economic issues. For many years, he analyzed the budget and pronounced on all government’s policies. From time to time, he writes on economic matters including on oil and gas. And he has shown that he has mastered the problems relating to the foreign currency crunch as per the article which Bhagnwandin retorted.
Bhagwandin should not venture to speak on complex issues for which he lacks expertise and specialization or even basic understanding. His understanding and description of issues as well as understanding of concepts leave much to be desired. He should leave those concepts for discussion by specialists who actually pursued undergraduate college degree and post-graduate studies in economics. Does Bhagwandin have an undergraduate degree in any subject — a basic requirement to master a field of discipline. If so from where? One does not have to go to college to become a specialist in a field. But an undergraduate degree provides one with the mental discipline, background and to be a specialist in a chosen field. I wonder what real economists like Drs. Clive Thomas, Ramesh Gampat, Tarron Khemraj, Maurice Odle, Ganga Ramdass, Floyd Haynes, Winston Jordan, etc. think about Bhagwandin’s explanation of foreign currency shortage and the unjustified attack on Ram.
Just for his edification and for public understanding, concepts are explained with simplicity: Microeconomics is a branch of economics that deals with individuals, firms and households in decision making and resource allocation. Macroeconomics deals with how supply and demand and other aspects impact on the entire economy — how markets interact to generate aggregate variables. Both macro and micro are related; they are tied to one another. Contrary to what Bhagwandin pens to slam Ram, the Guyana government handles both fiscal and monetary policy. Fiscal policy is government’s spending and tax policies to influence macroeconomic conditions such as aggregate demand for goods and services, employment, inflation, and growth.
Monetary policy is macroeconomic policy laid down by the central bank. It involves management of money supply including foreign exchange and interest rate. It is the demand side policy of government of to achieve macroeconomic objectives like inflation, consumption, employment, national income or GNP, growth and liquidity.
Bhagwandin stated: “(Chris Ram) is not entirely correct … that the central bank does not make policy but only carries out policies set by the government”. Bhagwandin is absolutely wrong. Anyone who studies economics knows that in theory central banks are supposed to be independent and function independently of the government. Guyana’s Central Bank is not an independent institution functioning under independent professional competent economists like the Federal Reserve or the Central Banks of Canada, UK, etc. In the Third World, Central Banks function at the directives of the government. They don’t have independent policies. The Guyana Central Bank cannot make policy without government’s approval or consent. The bank absolutely carries out the directives of the government (writ one person) who is the king behind the throne. In theory, a Central Bank’s role is, among other responsibilities, to oversee money supply or monetary policy. But in Guyana, the government (read on person) is in charge of both monetary and fiscal policy.
The Central Bank is affected by both micro and macro as well as fiscal policies. In addition to other matters, the Bank also focuses on foreign exchange and international trade. Foreign exchange is dynamic – amount constantly changes depending on trade and foreign travel.
Chris Ram is commended for attempting to shed light on the problem of currency shortage and a proposal to address it. He is right that the government has not handled the matter of foreign currency well. No amount of defense of government policy or attack on Chris Ram will change that fact. A proper commissioned investigation is needed on why there is a shortage of foreign currency for importers and recommendations to address the problem is needed.
UPDATE on Court Case for Full Protection!
Jun 02, 2023Kaieteur Sports – Female player Dinelle Lindee and Andrew Bennett, both from the rapid rising, Rose Hall Community Center Cricket Club, were the latest young cricketers to benefit from this...
Jun 02, 2023
Jun 02, 2023
Jun 02, 2023
Jun 02, 2023
Jun 02, 2023
Kaieteur News – Major fires always seem to occur in Guyana when few persons are around. From the destruction of the... more
By Sir Ronald Sanders Kaieteur News – The report on May 17, from the World Meteorological Organization, (WMO) that... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]