The year of the ‘do little’ Parliament

Dear Editor,

There is no shortage of goodwill in Guyana, especially at this time of year. Just turn the pages of this newspaper for the past week and you will see stories of people giving to the less fortunate, the elderly and to children. There are many more acts of kindness being displayed throughout the holiday season but which are not reported. To those who are extending a kind hand to others, we say well done.

For if that show of human compassion helps to change the life of just one person for the better, it would have been worth the effort. However, the spirit of giving has not been made easy for many because of the poor state of the economy.

In fact, there were many others who had wanted to give but were not able to do so because they could hardly provide for themselves. This is the sad state the poor and the working class found themselves in and the regime has not done anything to improve their lives.

We would be remiss if we did not express our deep concern for the future of the country and for the poor and the working class, especially for the fact that not much has changed during the past year for them. From all indications, this was a very bleak Christmas for many who are becoming poorer by the day.

During the last elections campaign, the vision of the three parties was presented to the nation.  Now one year later we can safely say that none of them has delivered 10% of what they had promised the voters.  The worst offender remains the government, since much more was expected from the political group which got the largest bloc of votes and as a consequence, executive power. Instead of delivering on their promises to reduce crime and illegal drug trafficking, end corruption, create jobs and develop the economy, government officials have been mired in one corruption scandal after the other but not a single individual has been charged.

Since taking office, the minority PPP regime has spent valuable time defending the incompetent Minister of Home Affairs, the fact that millions of taxpayers’ money is unaccounted for by NICIL and the secrecy surrounding the building of the Marriott Hotel with taxpayers’ money. It is now beyond a shadow of a doubt that President Donald Ramotar’s policies are hurting the nation economically, socially and politically and for this reason we have concluded that he is a failure. He has not outlined the direction in which he wants to take the country or how he intends to lead.

What really is the vision of the people of Guy-ana? Their vision is to have a bright future, a reduction in crime, corruption and illegal drug trafficking, and to have a good and transparent government that will govern in the interest of all.

Their ambition is to build a strong middle class by accelerating human development in such a manner as to move a significant number of persons from the working class into the middle class. Even though the PPP‘s principle mantra is to provide opportunities, create jobs and provide safety for the people, among other things, they have not done anything so far other than to misuse state resources, and to help themselves, their relatives, friends and business buddies.

One year after the 2011 elections, the working class is further away from new opportunities, and continues to live in a very unhealthy, unsafe, corrupt, and crime-riddled society, thanks principally to the policies or the lack thereof by the government.  But what have APNU and the AFC done to bring the PPP regime to the table of reason? Very little! They have not passed a single motion in parliament demanding a living wage for the workers, a reduction in the VAT to help the poor and the working class, jobs for the youths, a reduction in the Berbice River Bridge toll, and an increase in the old age pension from $10,000 to $15,000 per month.  They have not been able to apply pressure on the minority PPP re-gime to establish the Public Procurement Commission and an Anti-Corruption Agency to name a few. Yes, the government got a knee-jerk reaction from the majority opposition on the 2012 Budget cuts, and if it wasn’t for the diligence of the AFC exposing the APNU/PNC backroom deal they were about to make with the PPP on the Linden electricity rates, we suspect the PPP would have more money than they needed to squander.  Of course we got the Rohee saga and a motion about the Marriott Hotel. But these are not enough as a scorecard for the 12 months of salary and duty-free concessions that each Parliamentarian receives. Why do the people of Plastic City continue to live in such wretched conditions and why are the residents of No 30 Village still without electricity?

The majority opposition is only as good its actions in Parliament to hold the regime in check.  Parliament is not a chamber to draw a salary or to get fat on free food; it is a forum to change lives or rather to improve and not make worse the lives of the poor and the working class. It is beyond logic that the majority parliamentary opposition has not to date successfully piloted one motion which can reap rewards for the poor and the working class.  Not one! We know that the PPP would not because they have abandoned the poor and the working class for their wealthy business buddies, or in French parlance, the nouveau riche.

Thus our classification of the 10th Parliament as a ‘do little’ institution is based on its outcomes and the performance, especially by the opposition.
Soon taxpayers may find it fitting to describe that Parliament as a waste of taxpayers’ money rather than an institution to advance the betterment of the people. As the year closes, it is only appropriate for the parliamentarians to take stock of their year in office and truly ask themselves, what have they really done for the poor and the working class of Guyana?  Well it is time for another parliamentary recess!  Happy New Year to all.

Yours faithfully,
Asquith Rose
Harish S Singh

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