Kaieteur News – It could be at Tuschen, East Bank Essequibo or Toshaos from the remote hinterlands; it could be Lesbeholden or Linden, or some community along the East Bank Demerara and East Coast Demerara, and it is the same grimness of ordinary Guyanese existence that is spotlighted in SN’s cost-of-living series, now 41 stanzas deep.
Ordinary, working-class Guyanese in their numbers are being pummeled by prices and pay, not the well-connected, well-positioned in this society.
If there is one picture that could deliver the depressing nature of Guyana’s oil rich realities in the gut, then it would be the montage of faces in the 41 places touched by SN in its ongoing series. For it puts to shame all the sweet charts, graphs, tables, and percentages that are published by numerous sources, regarding how incredibly fabulously this country is doing in this Age of Oil. Should there be the need for subtitles about the gritty existence of many Guyanese, then the pain and poignancy of their simple verbal offerings to SN, to leaders, to their peers, put to shame all those sophisticated narratives compiled by Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal, the World Bank, and the IMF, among others.
Everyone races to tell Guyana how wonderful it is doing numerically, yet there are these masses of Guyanese barely surviving and living so wretchedly. From Amelia’s Ward and McKenzie, we hear the anguish of the ‘money finishing fast.’ There is appreciation that words like mine are considered toxic by PPP Government leaders. But instead of attacking concerned messengers, I recommend to Excellency Ali and VP Jagdeo that they attack the cost-of-living crisis in a planned, structured, and comprehensive manner. The returns are better for Guyanese who need relief the most; and, after all, even His Excellency Ali did a slick shake-and-bake, a distinctive head fake, with that admission before the BBC that cash handouts do not fit the bill as a remedy that is durable.
Relief is what the people need, as said by all interviewed, whether at Grove or Annandale, with Linden echoing, and the same dirge emerging from many other spaces. Fellow citizens crying out, all sounding the alarm about their condition, all are distressed by their individual economic travails. How they can’t make ends meet. How they can’t fully care for their sick ones. How can they build up their spirits that are sapped? In the course of the SN series, I repeatedly read words about cost-of-living like “difficult” and “affecting” and “I can’t cope” (a pensioner) and “I can’t afford to reconnect my water” (another pensioner). If the 10-11 persons interviewed weekly by SN, multiplied by 41, were the sum of the suffering in Guyana, then there could be the thinking that this 410 represent outliers or stragglers. Neither unreasonable nor unpardonable. Stated otherwise, they are the few, which means there is nothing to worry about; the great bulk of Guyanese are in a much better state.
To so conclude, would be more than an insult to the punishing circumstances of the faces seen, and their families and communities. It would the height of leadership depraved indifference that demeans and insults all Guyanese. When there are so many Guyanese that can’t afford to buy food (tomatoes at over $1000 a pound) in this new, gleaming era in the annals of Guyana, then there are no soft words reserved for President and Vice President. Though all are unprintable, I generated two short phrases for both President Ali and VP Jagdeo.
First, there is the unshakeable belief by many of wanton leadership neglect of those in Guyana who are struggling. Second, there is also the conclusion that there is the most callous disregard for the wellbeing of Guyana’s poor. When we have so many hungry and weary, so many forced to fight a losing battle daily with cost-of-living, then there is little significance to all the stats; the oil has no meaning, and government has failed those who need a helping hand the most. The PPP Government is busy building bridges, cannot find their footing on the economic bridges direly needed to manage the cost-of-living. The PPP is consumed with roads, while Guyanese multitudes are compelled to travel on a daily road to hell. Simply examine how much identified for infrastructure (capital projects) versus the impoverishments earmarked for people. Think of this: the PPP is full-throated about hospitals, while chemo and cardiac and other chronic situations have to be met out of pocket by family and strangers. What good are all those hospitals when undernourished people cannot even get prescribed medicines from them? Are these Guyanese collateral damage in the march to oil prosperity?
Perhaps, the mental hospital should be kept open because I am sure that I can easily find some permanent patients for it. Parliament would be a good place to start, with quite a few candidates. If the cruel and bludgeoning state of cost-of-living affecting many is not stark, staring, raving madness in the richest country in the world, then nothing else measures up. I wonder if government and leaders care to say anything about this difficult situation.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of this newspaper and its affiliates.)
$1,000 – 5US$ for a thin slice of pumpkin.
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