If there is anything that Guyanese have learnt over our brief post-independence period, it is that economic policies very often have a prolonged impact, and policy reversals can be extremely painful and socially destructive. Equally important also is that these economic policies are framed by our politicians, or more directly, our political parties. By now, there are probably a few of us who can claim that they don’t understand what is going on and what is at stake with respect to the policies of our major political parties.
To sum these up, the PPP’s policies benefited drug lords, and provided the context for corruption. Public servants drag through the existence of their daily lives, and workers in the private sector fare just a little better in the absence of proper regulation and oversight of their welfare. Every year also the PPP sang a song of promises of job creation and economic prosperity while corruption increased. While some may claim that progress was made during the PPP’s reign, often it was revealed that more than a number of projects were caught up in corruption and cost over-runs which led to a significant waste of taxpayers’ money. Additionally, many development projects were accomplished to strengthen support of the PPP’s traditional strongholds. Georgetown, New Amsterdam and Linden, for example, have little to show in the form of real social and economic progress during the PPP’s reign.
The coalition for its part, has dug in its heels and is silently leaning the economy on the path of Burnham’s socialist control system, to poverty, where the private sector can only bleat and cooperativism becomes a meaningful alternative. While this may seem an unfounded and scurrilous claim, the administration’s position in respect of the private sector and a number of economic policies adopted virtually guarantee a downward spiral in economic activity, regardless of the coalition hitching a ride on the revenues forthcoming from Exxon post-2020.
The slowdown in economic activity in the first half of the year was no accident, but a direct result of government policy, which it nevertheless remains confident will yield strong economic gains for the country. This notion is so misguided as to be ridiculous, and I go so far as to say, it confounds any faith Guyanese may have placed in this administration prior to the 2015 national elections.
The coalition continues to exhibit a callous disregard for the welfare of Guyana’s sugar workers and their children. What is almost an iron-clad guarantee is that political discrimination will never die in Guyana with these two major political parties in charge. The coalition’s ministers and senior officials seem content to live and serve on their inflated salaries while the man in the street struggles to eke out an existence while trying to stay away from crime.
I have recently published a book which places Guyana’s economic and political problems in context. One of its major points is that we cannot escape the responsibility for our future. We have to create political alternatives to our major political parties, or saddle ourselves with their incompetence. We have been conditioned into believing that it is impossible to form another functional political party capable of manning our government. This is incorrect, although I think even many of our intellectuals have come to accept it; we as a nation, however, have to reject it. We have a responsibility. We have a choice. We have a decision to make. And we will have to live with our decision, or indecision, whichever the case may be.
We have a lot of work to do. Our future in our hands. It is ours to decide what to do with it.