The eloquent budget speech given by the Honourable Finance Minister reminds me of the similar eloquence of President Forbes Burnham. No one can deny that President Burnham was a gifted speaker, and whether you liked him or not, one was simply drawn to listen to him, whenever he spoke. I listened to the Honourable Minister last Friday, and I liked his speech. His command of the English language is great, and his presentation was immaculate.
Having said that I am extremely disappointed that this Government does not seem to understand that Guyana needs a new direction away from the Bharrat Jagdeo mismanagement of our beautiful country. I maintain that it was a grave mistake for President Janet Jagan to have given the Presidency to this “boy”, and for the PPP to continue to nominate him as their candidate. Now this is history, and whether we supported him or not, the damage is done.
President Ramotar comes into office and offers a new hope to Guyana. This hope seems to be fading away as the evening twilight, and the President can only blame himself if he continues on this path. It appears as though President Jagdeo is still the puppet master and he is pulling the strings. There are numerous areas in the budget that need attention, but I will only make a few points.
Firstly, when will NICIL’s books be audited by the Auditor General, its findings made public, and its balances transferred into the Consolidated Fund? Sadly, the Honourable Minister did not address this. My firm opinion is that there needs to be a forensic audit of the books at NICIL, and I hereby offer my service to the Government to assist in this exercise.
Secondly, the National Assembly is being asked to dole out $10 billion to Guysuco and GPL. Well, I am told that if a wall is cracked, you do not simply put sand and cement on it and hope that the problem goes away. Surely, this plaster will be a band aid for a time, but the problem will still be there. Unless, we check the foundation and correct the problem, the wall will eventually collapse. My point is that unless Guysuco and GPL have professional boards appointed, and the board then appoints competent managers, nothing will change. My hope is that the majority opposition in Parliament demands a holistic approach to Guysuco and GPL before any funds are approved for them.
Thirdly, the Government is set to spend billions more on the Hope canal. What an utter disgrace. Guyana is one of the few countries blessed with a huge supply of fresh water. When the rain comes, we seem to be in a mad rush to release this water into the ocean. I suppose you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that if we extend our conservancies, excavating the land inward and making it deeper, building strong dams to withstand the water pressure, we will not only save the water for our farmers, but we can market our fresh water to countries that need it. It would be more prudent for the Government to spend this large sum to save our water, and to then sell it to those who need it, thus recovering our investments.
There are many more areas to highlight, but I will only hope that the President makes the right turn, and does his best to make our country the envy of the Caribbean.
I am reminded that many citizens from the Caribbean came to Guyana in the 1900’s, because Guyana had a better standard of living than most Caribbean countries. Can the President chart a new course and make this happen again? We will have to wait and see.