Feb 11, 2024 Editorial
Kaieteur News – Guyanese are trapped on the horns of a dilemma. On one horn, it is the devil, on the other, it is the disciples of the devil. The devil is Venezuela and its roving eye, the disciples of the devil are most of those in the PPPC Government. Venezuela wants land and anyhow it can latch onto it, as it bides its time. The operators in the PPPC Government want their hands on money, and as much as they can get of it, in the shortest possible time, with the easiest effort. The Guyana Natural Resource Fund (NRF) looms large, and it represents an irresistible money tree that just has to be shaken and plucked, shaken and plucked. Like reckless schoolboys, there are those in the government who gouge and strip, denude and deplete the money tree that is the NRF of Guyana.
The now completed debates on the 2024 budget should stand as confirmation of the steamy devil’s workshop that parliament has become. It is where twisted visions are set in motion and all the plans are given the required clearances to proceed full speed ahead. A one-seat majority makes all things possible. Debate as powerfully as wished, and as long as the stamina (or the Speaker) allows, but the outcome is still the same. The connivers in the PPPC Government are in heaven, which could mean hell for poor and powerless Guyanese, should oil prices head downward. When it does in one of its usual periodic cycles, it has mostly been for an extended period.
It is the essence of good sense, therefore, to go slow, play it safe with the people’s NRF. After all, it is not the government’s money (safety net), but that of the people. The leaders in the government, be he President Ali or Minister Singh, with Vice President Jagdeo creatively using the shadows as cover, are not the owners of the money in the NRF, through some special bequest that is unknown to all others. They are the overseers and stewards, and in their hands, through their actions with it, they must represent what is prudent. Only the prudent, and in the expressions of it in the management of the NRF.
Withdrawals from the NRF should be in reasonable amounts, and not what is aggressive and borders on the dangerous. What the PPPC Government just gave itself the power to do with the NRF (withdraw) is nothing but high irresponsibility, and clearly dangerous. Giving oneselfa parliamentary cloak to clean out much of the NRF money is not prudence in action, nor sensible leadership with this precious patrimony. All projects do not have to be today, or in one go. All spending does not have to be as though it is carnival or Christmas. Some things can wait, others can be spaced out. When there is no listening, and there is brushing aside of helpful counsel, a long and bitter hangover is in the cards. It is part of the curse that comes with oil: frolic and play the fool today, get ready to pay heavily and unbearably tomorrow. Splurge thoughtlessly (and crookedly) in the present, and live with grim regrets later.
Other countries with oil have the hard, bitter, tales to tell. Almost without exception they are about what went wrong, when the pride and perverseness in some men propelled then towards executing what is wrong. Leaders have been repeatedly urged to think of the people first, and not of their pocketsalready overflowing, but still demanding more refills. The addiction of the PPPC Government to the NRF money is just one part of Guyanese dilemma. There is that other addiction that makes helpless cripples of this government: more borrowing. It is a set of schemers and hustlers in the PPPC Government drawing down on the NRF millions, and pushing up the debt ceiling to borrow more millions.
The discipline, the required depth of basic commonsense, is nowhere to be seen in those piloting this nation to some place, hopefully forward. Their visions are breathtaking: break the bank (NRF), and build the debt burdens. In each instance, Guyanese are exposed and endangered. Oil prices sink, and the people of this country also sink.
Everything that comes out of Jagdeo’s mouth is aimed at confusing this nation.
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