The coalition is probably quite content to work with what obtained under the previous government

Dear Editor,

Many Guyanese continue to operate according to the notion that our President and government ministers should be treated like royalty or with some such deference. There is nothing further from the truth.  The fact is these individuals are all public servants who were elected to the higher order of service. Yet they have consistently shown disregard for our laws and our concerns, almost becoming a law unto themselves.

A column and a letter by Christopher Ram  (‘Questions…’ SN, Sept 26; ‘What are the Real Curses?’ Sun Stabroek, Oct 1) strike at the core of the major issues we have to confront with the coalition administration, and provide ample evidence of the above claim. Mr Ram’s evaluation of the Exxon scandal (it should be a scandal by now) makes it abundantly clear that we have a problem on our hands. It is impossible for the Minister of Natural Resources, who is schooled in law, not to be aware of the infringements cited.

But where are the laws to govern this kind of culture? What does this tell us about the character and intent of some of our government ministers? As with the PPP, this is turning out to be a great source of disappointment, and forces us to reconcile the hard truths of such behaviour. What seems to be unfolding is that the coalition administration will carry on with the PPP’s lawlessness and stick with what was left of the PPP’s corrupt infrastructure while pulling down the PPP’s own culprits.

I have come to the conclusion that the coalition doesn’t care about the increased hardships that resulted from VAT, the children of sugar workers, who themselves struggle every day with unemployment and uncertainty, rice farmers whose concerns have been swept under the mat in the absence of a stronger lobby, the man in the street who struggles every day to make ends meet, our youth who increasingly see crime as a viable income opportunity, or persons who continue to be incarcerated for unjustifiable lengths of time for possession of minute amounts of marijuana.   The coalition ministers have become our new untouchables, living the privileged life while Guyanese suffer for the lack of a better government.

President Granger has become a disaster. Going into the 2015 election, I had sought reasons to justify him to Guyanese as a good leader. I had considered his rise in the army as a definite plus, and thought that with his experience in business (he owned the Guyana Review, if I remember well) he would have understood private sector concerns. This has been shown to be so wrong. Whatever leadership skills he was thought to possess have come to naught as he seems to be pushed around by the PNC’s strong men on policy for the country, against all common sense. We should remember here that he had just landed in the PNC in the absence of leadership material within the party, although this in itself is controversial with the presence of Winston Murray among others at the time.  In an unhealthy turn of events, Mr Granger and Congress Place seem intent on taking us back down the road from which we spent decades trying to recover.  Based on this, I withdraw any support and consideration I had previously accorded him.

Our professionals must continue to face off with government all the time on these matters until laws are written which govern the kinds of abuses to which we are currently exposed and are incorporated into our legal framework. This very likely will not be under this administration or that of the PPP.

Granger’s recent reported reference to our six major economic sectors as ‘curses’ can easily be seen as an attempt to de-emphasize government support for these sectors going forward.  This is so crude and inconsiderate of the welfare of the individuals within these sectors as to be unthinkable What has been spelt out in Mr Ram’s letter of Oct 1 are some of the very real issues which have both poisoned our society and served as retardants to our social and economic progress. Many of these issues also had to be confronted by developed nations which rose to the challenge by establishing appropriate governance systems and safeguards to prevent discrimination and roll back other constraints to development.  Books have been written on the subject of America’s race relations and many of Europe’s own internal feuds.

What is amazing is that Mr Granger reportedly had the gall to tell the diaspora that Guyana needs their brains and not their barrels, while at home his administration has given the private sector a proverbial shove, so that it is now virtually impossible for a public-private partnership to create jobs for our school leavers and the unemployed. This itself is a policy that creates the need for barrels, while the diaspora will read the writing on the wall in the dailies and know that the man is not serious.

The coalition administration’s sloth in addressing the issues highlighted in Mr Ram’s letter suggests it is probably quite content to work with what obtained under the previous government and blame the outcomes on them, among other things.  Also, these very same governance systems will very probably put an end to the administration’s employment policies. The politicians of our government have unfortunately demonstrated that they are political dinosaurs who will continue to mangle this country with their obsolete, backward and irrelevant ideas in today’s modern world of governance affairs. Old hacks they are ‒ the coalition itself is a patch job, putting new wood on an old frame. The house is bound to fall, which it is doing right now anyway.

I have already observed that poverty is not an act of God, but the result of weak leadership and a government which deprives its citizens.  The PPP delivered on this, and now the coalition is demonstrating its truth also. A country has itself to blame for its government.

So skip the curses and blame weak leadership and incompetence. To administer the correct medication, first determine the correct diagnosis.

Yours faithfully,

Craig Sylvester

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