Development is not limited to what the gov’t perceives it to be, there is need for more money in people’s pockets

Dear Editor,
Dr. Randy Persaud, whose official title and actual job description with the Jagdeo administration is not fully known, chose to respond to my letter, “The government has failed over 17 years to attract the Diaspora back home,” (September 12) by releasing a letter to the state-run Guyana Chronicle, with the caption, “AFC spinners at work,” (September 13). He really did an injustice to his apathetic attempt at a response by stitching into his letter the names of others who criticized his views by trying to lump us together, but I guess that’s his mind-boggling way of engaging in the type of dialogue he says he wants to have with Guyanese in the diaspora. So much for such a non-starter!

I was somewhat bemused by the caption of his letter, nonetheless, because no where in my letter did I ever say my opinions expressed mirrored those of the AFC – a party I support for the simple reason it represents a beacon of hope for change from past failed ethnic-based political policies and practices and the key that unlocks the door to a new era of better race relations within a political environment that accentuates individual performance and not party affiliation or ethnic identification.

While I will let Annan Boodram, Mike Persaud, Balwant Persaud and Malcolm Harripaul – all named by Dr. Persaud as critics of his views, and presumably AFC supporters – respond individually to him, if they see any merit in doing so, I want to make it clear to Dr. Persaud that I am one Guyanese who lived through the Forbes Burnham era and so I know the kind of cheap politics the Jagdeo administration is engaging in by trying to take political credit for various routine projects that are financed either by foreign loans and grants or from the public treasury.

Oh yes, there were many developmental projects executed by the Burnham administration, but guess what, they still failed to stop the country’s socioeconomic downward spiral that precipitated the exodus of some of the best professional minds and skilled crafts people the country had. Burnham constantly used the Chronicle, GBC and New Nation to extol the virtues of his many projects and often boasted that these were signs of development and progress, but while he yet spoke, lines were forming at various ports of exit in Guyana. For many Guyanese, it soon became any port from the political storm brewing in Guyana. Fortunately for Burnham he did not have the kind of free media Guyana has today so he actually got away with a lot of bone-headed decisions.

Here we are, twenty-four years after Burnham died, and President Jagdeo, who is not so lucky since he has to contend with Guyana’s Fourth Estate that works tirelessly to apprise the people of matters the government would prefer to remain unknown, now has to rely heavily on his political spinners, which include three doctors, to engage in the same mind game of trying to portray so-called routine developments taking place in Guyana as signs Guyana is on the move. Some Guyanese with a limited understanding or vision of what real socioeconomic development entails have even been duped by the regime’s rhetoric and written letters praising these developments by comparing what obtained ruing the PNC era to what now obtains. A few even went so far to point to the many new multi-level and fancy-looking buildings that house new businesses, the many new luxury houses, the influx of luxury vehicles cars and the availability of an assortment of imported consumer items as signs of progress.

Unfortunately, apart from the political spinners who would pull their ‘stats and facts’ from files to argue their case for progress, I think most government supporters and admirers are mixing up the sight of foreign products and signs of the private prosperity of some with national progress. It still has not dawned on Dr. Persaud and others of his paid-to-spin persuasion that they may fool some of the people some of the time, but definitely won’t fool all of the people all of the time, and unless they can show where ordinary Guyanese at home living on US$2 a day will find money to buy foreign consumer goods or dare build their new houses with basic furnishings, I don’t think they can use their ‘stats and facts’ from their files to convince everyone there is real progress taking place.
It is one thing to churn out figures showing debt reduction or percentage shifts in areas of national production or to identify structures built and systems implemented, but if these are not translating into more money in people’s pockets and pocketbooks, they mean nothing to the people. Those who can’t migrate will just have to grind it out; but those with the ability to leave are doing just that. Hopefully, they will land good jobs and join the rest of overseas Guyanese in remitting money back home to help ease the hardship of those that remain.

So this is the crux of the matter that the spinners refuse to address: development is not limited to what the government perceives it to be but also what they people experience every day in dealing with an underachieving economy that is dependent on loans, grants, remittances and money laundering. There is a need for more money to reach the people and to do this legitimately requires jobs to be created, and to create jobs requires local and or foreign investors to plunk down millions into production and manufacturing areas. We have had some investors over the past 17 years but not the type with the money to create jobs on a large scale and after 17 years the government is only now waging a do-or-die battle with LCDS as an economic plan, which targets rich countries pouring millions into Guyana.

I will close on a totally different note. The issue of a third term for the President will not go away simply because the President said he already said no 100 times. When people and the media are constantly talking about a particular political topic in Guyana, it does not matter how much the government says there is no truth in the topic, the people are more often times right on the money. So the media have a responsibility to help keep this President honest on this third term issue by going farther and asking him, even though he says is not interested in a third term, whether he will serve as a Prime Minister or in any senior government position if the PPP were to win in 2011 with a new presidential candidate. And yes, I am thinking here of the Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin – Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev arrangement.

Guyana seriously needs new or fresh blood with new and fresh thinking on taking the country from the crossroads of confusion to the path of pragmatic political progress, and after observing the PNC for 28 years and the PPP for 17 years, it is clear that neither has managed to deliver the goods to the people by bringing Guyana into her truly rich potential. Anyone for change?
Yours faithfully,
Emile Mervin,
Queens, NY

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