There is a fundamental difference between what obtained under the PNC and what exists now under the PPP/C

Dear Editor,

Dr Henry Jeffrey in his ‘Future Notes’ column has arrogated to himself the role of an ‘authority’ on almost every issue under the sun. Having served in leadership positions both under the PNC and the PPPC administrations, he felt seemingly positioned to pontificate on governance issues on a comparative basis. But as an academic his only concern should be to analyze situations objectively and scientifically.

‘Future Notes’ seem not to conform to the basic tenets of rigorous analysis. His most recent analysis of the situation as it relates to the Anti-Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism Bill is indicative of such flaws if not biased analysis.

Take for example the position he took in his most recent column (Wednesday, March 26, captioned ‘The politics of money laundering: who will blink first?’) in which he accused the PPP/C of not being serious in terms of passing the necessary amendments to the said Bill with particular reference to the period when the PPP/C had enjoyed a majority of the seats in Parliament.

What Dr Jeffrey did not mention in his column is that there is a fundamental and qualitative difference between what obtained under the PPP/C and the former PNC administrations in relation to governance and in matters of law and jurisprudence.

The first has to do with the fact that under the PNC Parliament was not a representative and hence truly deliberative body in which the true preferences of the population were reflected and codified into the Laws of Guyana. Parliament for all practical purposes under the PNC was nothing short of a façade in which laws were imposed on the people without any meaningful checks and balances.

In those days the committee system was not institutionalized as is the case today. There were no select committees to try and iron out differences prior to the full sitting of Parliament as obtains today. It was the PNC way or the highway, in so far as the opposition parties were concerned, even though the PNC was a de facto minority government.

The second point to note is that the PPP/C never had any intention whatsoever to use its majority status to railroad legislation, even though as Dr Jeffrey himself posited that given its majoritarian status in previous Parliaments it could have easily done so. The anti-money laundering legislation was much too important with far-reaching consequences for the country and people to play politics with and for it to be hastily treated and rushed through Parliament.

Maybe, in hindsight it was perhaps the better thing to do given the intransigence and the anti-national stance now being taken by the combined political opposition where they are now prepared to sacrifice the national good on the altar of narrow partisan interest.

Sadly, while the opposition parties are fiddling, narco-traffickers and money launderers are having, as it were, a field day, and the blame is put on the PPP/C government.

Dr Jeffrey went on to draw a parallel between the PNC and the PPP by making the spurious point that both parties at varying periods entered into ‘deals’ in order to promote their respective partisan political agendas. He gave as an example the support given to the Burnham regime in the mid-1970s on the issue of the nationalization of the sugar industry by the PPP to get the regime to put in place mechanisms to allow for union recognition of GAWU.

There are two fundamental points that need clarification and further elaboration. The first, as Dr Jeffrey ought to know as a former ideologue of the PNC, the PPP has consistently taken a principled position when it comes to the issue of nationalization of the commanding heights of the economy. As such, there was no need for any political horse-trading on this matter in so far as the PPP was concerned.

The second point has to do with the fact that GAWU at the time of nationalization was the largest sugar union with overwhelming support from field and factory workers. The issues of union recognition were a non-issue which was bound to happen with the passage of time and therefore was never the subject of any horse-trading. And, if only for the record, the PPP had never advocated or supported the deliberate burning of sugar cane to hurt the economy during the Burnham regime as being peddled by the PNC, even though it was in support of legitimate industrial action by sugar workers in an effort to address grievances.

The PPP/C administration has nothing to gain from the non-passage of the anti-money laundering and financing of terrorism legislation. To suggest otherwise, as Dr Jeffrey sought to do in his column is not only intellectually deficient but wholly incorrect.

Yours faithfully,

Narindra Persaud

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