Federalism is the best answer

Dear Editor,

In Guyana today most elected officials are loyal to their own party and their leader first and foremost. The interests of the voters do not seem to matter at all. Federalism ensures elected officials are more responsive to their constituents as a priority. Most importantly it will eliminate such features as the gridlock and cliffhangers  which continue to hinder routine approval of the budget and other important bills. Guyana’s problems continue with no solutions in sight even as we know what ails us. In the USA both Democratic and Republicans often vote against their party when their constituents have more to gain.  For example after super storm Sandy ravaged  America’s New Jersey state its conservative Republican Governor Chris Christie hosted President Barack Obama just before the November 2011 general elections and ensured federal help for his residents. Loyalty to his Republican Party took a back seat to the needs of his state.  Do people care where help comes from when they are hungry, homeless and living unsheltered in the cold?

Conceivably the AFC or its thinking could still prevail in the federated Berbice (the others being Demerara, Essequibo and Rupununi).   With snap elections in the air and the PNC and AFC without money to fight more problems are inevitable. Perchance (even  if they had originally remained within the PPP or PNC) or  just in case they eventually slip and slide back to the big parties in the future, their objectives may still prevail. Under federalism the voting of bills should override party loyalties because local needs are dominant. What are the root causes of Guyana’s conflicts after the PNC split off in 1955? Obviously it’s big party and big government which fuel the ethnic divisions. To expect the two parties to disappear completely is not realistic. What federalism does is to empower the provinces to prioritise their needs while remaining, if they so choose, within the umbrellas of the  political parties which currently exist. Assuredly federalism provides the best opportunities and answers to Guyana’s problems, guaranteeing the country remains a united unit. Mr Maxwell is understandably concerned that federating Guyana will make it a weakened country, allow it to fall prey to secessionist dreams and most importantly provide a prize for foreign invaders. But he ignores Guyana’s very salient reality. The fractures which have opened up within the last 60 years are more potent in terms of pushing us apart. Federalism on the other hand recognises our uniqueness and so prevents the country from disintegrating. Current parliamentary gridlock only reflects our political realities simmering in race disharmony.  It’s more of the same with no solution.

What is so far removed from our political consciousness that prevents us from acknowledging we are a country already segmented?  Who is best equipped to battle crime and fix their economic problems but Guyanese themselves in their own locale. Federalism or not, Ankoko was still annexed while we were still united and governed by the centre. What will best save and guarantee Guyana’s integrity from future invaders is the diminution of the ethnic rivalries which we face constantly. Neither socialism nor cooperatives were able to provide answers previously. The race rivalries have to be minimized not by race fusion or avoidance, but by an acknowledgement that they are better harnessed with all their strengths. It is the appeal to race which has held us back. It must be defanged to minimise it. Ballooning growth in local economies and using technology for  education and production cannot be repugnant within a federated government. There is also an urgent need to win back our ‘lost’ flock so they come home and live in security. Any country with 83,000 square miles of territory and only 750,000 people to defend it will sooner or later become an object of conquest in the future. Facilitating the growth of the population  empowers us with more Guyanese who will have more to lose having more to defend from any invader. Federalism will make Guyana a more secure and  better place.

Most importantly, empowering the provinces to become economically self- sufficient makes for a more stable country. If one province fails economically it does not cause the entire ship to sink. Currently the misdeeds of big government can bring the entire country down. This cannot continue unaddressed.  Even America will find Guyana less dependent in terms of foreign aid. Federalism is the best answer by far.

Yours faithfully,
Vassan Ramracha

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