Nov 08, 2023 Editorial
Kaieteur News – It is clear that every institution with money to lend think of Guyana. Guyana has an endless appetite for loans and more loans. The PPPC Government has made borrowing one of the centerpieces of its governing visions, its funding choices. The latest lender tapped is the African Export-Import Bank for US$500 million. Guyana continues at this rate, and soon there will be very few countries that its government has not shaken down for a loan of several hundred million US dollars.
Media reports about this latest half billion in American dollars indicate that the funds are for infrastructure projects. After all the billions already spent on infrastructure from the national budget, and as bolstered by parts of the withdrawals from the nation’s Natural Resources Fund, it is reasonable to think that infrastructure has absorbed more than its fair share of spending. Yet, more ways are being conceived by the PPPC Government on how to milk the infrastructure cow, and from whom to obtain the loans to make its calculations a reality.
What is well known the world over is that costly infrastructure projects provide the best cover for dirty politicians and their just as crooked helpers in the public service bureaucracy to enrich themselves. If borrowing more and more billions is what it takes to keep the corruption train rolling, then borrowing is what it will have to be. The more that Third World governments borrow, the more the skullduggeries take hold, and the PPPC Government, with its cabal of crooked public servants and contractors are among the best anywhere at the self-help game.
The Guyana culture of corruption notwithstanding, there are few Guyanese who would overly denounce the unending spending of vast sums on infrastructure, but with one condition mandatory. The Guyanese people must be taken care of, through their needs met, their anxieties erased. While billions upon billions are spent on infrastructure, the poor and those at the bottom of the economic barrel in this country are yet to have the full experience of being citizens in a country with billions of barrels of proven oil reserves. On a comparative basis (to infrastructure spending), the money bus has passed the majority of Guyanese a long time ago. Some of the more optimistic in the population are still hoping to be on the next big money bus that comes their way, if it does at all.
It would be so encouraging if the government starting with President Ali would spend a bigger fraction of the time and thinking that they do on infrastructure on the state of Guyana’s poor and hungry. It would say so much, if the government would expend the energy to come up with how to provide some form of sustained relief to the Guyanese. It would be for those who don’t know when the last time was that they had three full meals in one day for their entire family. Unlike the situation under prior governments, there is no money scarcity today.
Even when considering the paltry royalty and profit-sharing arrangements under the 2016 contract with ExxonMobil, the Guyana Government can and should have done better for all the people of Guyana. Even when the leadership in government decides that borrowing is unavoidable (a conclusion that we strongly disagree with), it ought not to be to finance more public works projects. Not while Guyanese are living hand to mouth, and struggling to cope with that, somehow. Our position is clear as day: not one Guyanese should be hungry or without today. Infrastructure can wait, hungry citizens can only survive for so long.
It is those same hungry and suffering citizens on whose backs servicing all these loans will fall like a hammer, should oil prices fall steeply, and stay in that state for years. When would this oil have some meaning for them? Would that day ever come? Who should they trust to give them their proper priority, with the massive future revenues that have now become the bright, happy talk?
Borrowing has a long history of leading to bad times, while it also makes bad friends. Guyana does not need to be a borrower today, nor should it have so many struggling to manage.
PNC demanding answers for smuggled chicken early Sunday morning after church!
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