Mr. Jagdeo and the PPP have been making a lot of public noise recently as they try to capitalize on some of the coalition’s mishandling of a number of major issues. While the Coalition has indeed provided ample reason to question their government, supporters of the PPP should also remember that the PPP failed Guyanese on a number of crucial areas while seeming to take advantage of their supporters’ own allegiance. Some of the issues we would do well to remember, and why also the supporters of the PPP should reconsider their support for their party and examine options for starting an alternative party are:
- Under the PPP administration GuySuCo’s profitability eroded during the last 10 years of its government, jeopardizing the welfare of sugar workers. Although this was partly due to the reduction in prices offered for sugar by the EU, Mr. Jagdeo’s personal involvement in the decision to sink US$200 million into the Skeldon operations was very probably the final straw for GuySuCo as allegations surfaced that he disregarded advice which would have seen him choosing a more reputable and experienced Indian firm at a lower cost. Plans to address the corporation’s diversification were dragged out and yielded little up until the PPP’s exit in 2015 when the corporation required financial support from taxpayers. Although the current administration has recently committed to not shutting down its operations, the corporation’s future remains in question as many workers’ issues remain unresolved.
- The PPP’s embrace of corruption reached such proportions that it creeped into the major organizations overseeing the operations of the rice sector. Allegations were made of payments being made to select supporters while many other rice farmers were placed in financial difficulties as they were underpaid for their produce, or payments were delayed inordinate amounts of time.
- The PPP administration demonstrated disdain and disregard for both public and private sector workers from 1999 onwards, neglecting to recognize that many of Guyana’s workers suffered tremendously as a result of the policy reforms which were a result of the economic transformation that was effected to address Guyana’s economic crisis coming out of the 1980s. Even after the first fifteen years in office, the PPP administration consistently handed out annual increases of the order of 5 per cent to public servants. Govern-ment’s wages policies heavily influenced that of the private sector so that today, much of Guyana’s work force get by on depressed wages.
- A declared socialist based party, the PPP from its early years in office frustrated investment prospects which could have done much to reduce unemployment levels, raise incomes and potentially raise Guyana’s status internationally. The fruits of its efforts in this direction were brought to bear as Guyana’s economic growth averaged 0.6 per cent from 1999 when Mr. Jagdeo took office to 2004, the year prior to the flood. A memorable instance was that of a Malaysian company, where that company’s machinery was left so long uncleared by the GRA that decay set in and the company threatened to withdraw from the country.
- Many of the so-called foreign direct investment schemes during the PPP’s terms were in fact dressing to quell claims by the opposition that the PPP government was not doing enough to attract investment, stimulate economic growth and address our crucial unemployment issues. The investment in Linden yielded little or nothing for the town and Guyana. The highly touted Bai Shan Lin venture was subject to claims of corruption which included undervaluing of exports and massive duty waivers, which in total amounted to an abuse of Guyana’s resources by this company.
- Petty corruption on a massive scale became part and parcel of government operations as businesses and private individuals were routinely placed over a barrel to have their imports processed and many other government services provided.
- The press has documented instances of allegations of the PPP’s involvement with, and solicitation of the services of individuals linked to narcotics and crime. This practice along with the administration’s record on corruption effectively put a damper on investment in Guyana. International organizations had also made claims of the government facilitating money laundering and narcotics activity, which exacerbated negative perceptions about Guyana internationally.
- A few of the PPP’s ministers had gone beyond the law, but had never been brought to justice. This disregard and abuse of our laws by the PPP is one of the bigger issues which stands against the PPP ever returning to office.
- The PPP sought to dominate the media by rationing its advertisements in the press. To widen its influence on the public domain it made selective issuances of radio licences to a number of its supporters. The local media, particularly Channel 6, endured intimidation as the station continually embarrassed the government on numerous issues.
- Finally, the PPP’s penchant for misusing taxpayers’ money is very probably unsurpassed and unmatched in the Caribbean region, from the misuse of NIS funds to build the Berbice bridge, which now costs so much as to make travel for some prohibitive, to the Marriott fiasco which needs no further disclosure here.
These are the main issues the supporters of the PPP need to consider before throwing their weight behind the PPP again. Because if the PPP were ever allowed back into office again, it is an almost certainty that they will pick up exactly where they left off.