Kaieteur News – Thanks, but no thanks, for Chapter 42 of SN’s cost-of-living series. I say thanks for the ongoing revelations of how many parts of Guyana live, really struggle to get by. I am troubled in having to share the shrug of ‘no thanks’ because it reminds me of when I struggled to make ends meet and cope, both here and in the early apple days.
In East La Penitence and Northeast La Penitence, tough and gritty communities for sure, there was a constant refrain before SN’s camera and microphone: the cost of living is “affecting” and coping in a challenge. Affecting is not in a positive or helpful direction; and I think that when citizens say that they can’t cope, well that speaks for itself. Did somebody, hosts of people, not say that Guyanese are the richest people in the world? Since they have it right, then where is this country going wrong with so many representing microcosms of the real Guyana in clusters of citizens, and communities across this country? What is the government and leadership not doing that they should? Why should Guyanese be laboring with cost of living crises in this time of abundance? Why, when Guyana features glitteringly at the top in every number and statistic that speaks to the global? We are astonishingly rich, yet agonizingly pauperized in some respects.
Cost-of-living dots are so many across the face of this rich land that anguished Guyanese could be easily mistaken for having some peculiar skin disease. I don’t know how President Ali could make his pretty speeches, while this is the case in Guyana. I don’t have a clue how a former President, now an omnipotent crude oil presence, could generate paroxysms of hostility at the few who say ‘ting nah regula in Guyana’ when all these citizens are hurting. Leaders claim to be the smartest people anywhere, but there are these droves of Guyanese crying out about how hard the times are. Is Guyana really the next Dubai, or the new Haiti in waiting for the masses? Towers and high-rises versus tortured citizens on the low end of the ladder.
When 8 out of 10 citizens from the two La Penitence communities touched by SN could say the ‘cost-of-living is affecting me’ or the ‘cost of living has been affecting me’ these are not bloodless bots on a computer screen or cryptic cyphers on a spreadsheet. They are real people with real pain, and living with the real savaging irony of being hailed as the richest people anywhere on earth. It should be 9 out of 10, and not 8, because one citizen took the curious position that the cost-of-living is not affecting him, but ‘still the money can’t do for food items….’ What do I (or anyone) say to that slight mystery, other than cost-of-living traumas in Guyana have introduced different degrees of hallucination and illogic in this country.
I read the captions daily of hundreds of millions for this, and billions for a few choice items favored by ruling politicians. It doesn’t matter, for that old syndrome is at work. It is called OPM, which means other people’s money. More pointedly, when I do another rapid counting exercise, there dawns the realization (again) of how much is spent on infrastructure on the ground, but so little on the infrastructure of the people who travel on them or use them in some manner at some time. Amid all the brightness of big projects, there are the litters of Guyanese affected and not being able to cope with the most basic of human needs: how to feed themselves.
Clean, compassionate leadership could help to ease the pains of the people. But Guyanese heard a wise leader cautioning about inflation. Somehow, there isn’t the same level of interest and concern about what the massive construction binge is doing to prices. Try finding a quality carpenter, and if found, then try finding the money to pay that citizen. It should be noted that I bypassed the price of materials, which alone interminably delays the need for a carpenter or other workers.
Remember the focus, mine, is not about building towers and other targets that absorb lots of taxpayers’ cash (and what goes along with that cash carnival), but about building the means for Guyanese struggling to cope. I take the position from now that, at the rate that negatively impacted Guyanese are going, there will have to be agitations for reparations from oil traders Exxon, given what local political-tribal chiefs are doing to citizens.
Maybe I am made of different stuff from President Ali, but I would not show my face, definitely hang my head in shame, the next time a multimillion-dollar infrastructure is heralded. What good is all the oil, when the condition of Guyanese boils down to that of Midas staring at the handwork that was now his daughter, his new, lovely, golden statue? We have statuesque infrastructure monuments, and then there is the human testimony of financial travails, and the turbulence of an empty, or half-filled stomach.
(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.)
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