Comparison is simplistic

Dear Editor,

Hydar Ally jumps to fraudulent conclusions without close examination of the facts and without engaging in proper comparison. See his letter titled ‘The PPP and PNC are poles apart in terms of governance and performance’ (SN, August 12). Ally states that the PPP was elected to office by and in democratic elections. He states, “The PNC by contrast was foisted on the nation in 1964 through a fiddled constitutional arrangement and thereafter perpetuated itself in government for close to three decades through rigged elections.” Here is where the hypocrisy of Mr Ally is evident. Let me clarify some history. The 1964 election was free and fair. There was a lot of propaganda surrounding it but it was a free and fair election. The PPP won 109,352 votes, the PNC 96,567 and the UF 26,612 in the 1964 election. The PPP got 45.8% of the total vote, the PNC won 40.5% and the UF obtained 12.4%. Those are the facts. The “fiddled constitutional arrangement” Mr Ally is vexed about was agreed to by Dr Cheddi Jagan himself in London. It was an expected constitutional response from the British given Jagan’s rigid communist ideological position.

Ally speaks to economic and social destruction under the PNC. He is right with the PNC level of economic destruction but he isn’t being honest in his comparison. The PNC ran a socialist economic model meaning that government paid for everything and people lived for free. Heavy subsidies were given by government to ensure free or virtually free electricity, education, water, schoolbooks, etc. In the first decade of PNC socialism from the mid-1960s to mid-1970s, the Guyanese people were living it up until the stupidity of the socialist model was exposed. Further, the PNC barely collected taxes compared to the tax burden imposed by the PPP. So, people had more money to spend and got things for free. Today, they get slaughtered by PPP taxes including VAT and then still have to pay killer electricity bills, water bills, mortgages and high food costs with the little left over.

But the PNC borrowed money from abroad to deliver freeness to the populace. It worked for about a decade before the lenders starting demanding their money and a culture of corruption, bureaucracy, mismanagement, atrocious decision-making, squandermania, waste, inefficiency and low productivity started sending the economy down the drain. That culture of failure has continued under the PPP. Corruption, waste and mismanagement have actually gotten worse because there is more money than ever in the hands of the PPP government than ever existed in the hands of the PNC government. The difference between the PPP and the PNC is that the PPP has collected and spent more than the PNC ever did; all of more than US$7.257 billion in 19 years. The PNC funded its economy mostly by external borrowing as opposed to heavy internal taxation. The PPP is doing both at the highest rates ever.

The PNC borrowed US$2.2 billion in 28 years to try to deliver free services and it only worked for about 10 to 12 years. The PPP has borrowed some US$1.7 billion in 19 years and people are trying to steal electricity and water because the bills are too high.

At the end of the day, the PNC wrecked this country but this simplistic comparison by Mr Ally and others is really either an arrogant display of ignorance or a deliberate exhibition of intellectual deceit. Guyana’s economic recovery did not start in 1992. It commenced in 1989 when Hoyte fashioned some serious economic changes to set the foundation for the current economy we see. Yes, the PPP is essentially running Hoyte’s economy.

I’ve got news for Hydar Ally: Guyana is still one of the poorest nations in the western hemisphere. If Mr Ally thinks that Guyana is not a pariah for its narco-trafficking, human rights abuses, people smuggling, gun-trafficking and other abuses, he is living in another world. Guyana remains a pariah state. An election every 5 years does not erase the filth of corruption and wrongdoing that surrounds it. Elections cannot erase wrongdoing.

No one in their right mind could deny that Guyana improved under the PPP. But improvement started from 1989 under the PNC. The fact is that any government with half a brain could have improved Guyana after the PNC debacle and after being handed an economy fundamentally re-adjusted by Desmond Hoyte. Anyone can boast of a trajectory of sustained growth if that growth has predominantly come and is coming from an underground and illegal economy led by drug trafficking. Somebody needs to tell the masses suffering under high cost of living, high taxes, escalating crime and rampant corruption of Guyana’s graduation from Least Developed Country to More Developed Country status. By the way, Guyana’s social decline has accelerated under the PPP. There were more manners, decency, morality and tolerance under the glare of the PNC heinousness than there is under this so-called shining light of PPP ‘democracy’ Mr Ally sees.

Yours faithfully,
M Maxwell

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