In late 1975, in an article – The colonial model facilitating co-operative underdevelopment in Guyana –published in the Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics (Belgium. October 1975), I said that ‘In 1973 there were 1237 registered [cooperative] societies with a membership totaling 105,900 and a share capital of $10m. This is reasonable development in a country of about ¾ million people, where in 1970 the figures were as follows: 967 societies, 76,436 members and $6.5m share capital. But the face value of these statistics gives a false picture. Share capital is only on paper: many societies are either in debt or bordering thereupon. Bureaucratic manipulation is rife, while many members only join or form societies to exploit others. These, added to the other difficulties made co-operative development, to say the least, difficult.’
I was at the time employed in the Planning Unit of the Ministry of Co-operatives and Nationalization Mobilization, and Senior Minister Hamilton Green summoned me to his office and accused me of publishing without permission an article abroad that was critical of the co-operative movement in Guyana. As I understood it, the public service rules at the time stated that I had to send any paper I intended to publish to the permanent secretary and the minister and give them sufficient time to respond, and I pointed out to the minister that I had submitted the paper to him and given sufficient time for a response. To his credit, he did not deny that I had done so, but proceeded to inform me that it was clear that I did not understand Guyana (I had remigrated from England in 1994) and should take some time to travel around the country at the government’s expense to better acquaint myself with what was taking place.
Today is Emancipation Day and there is again much talk about reviving the co-operative movement, so it would do no harm to recall that it was in 1961, when still in opposition, that Forbes Burnham committed the People’s National Congress to utilising co-operatives to transform Guyana and emancipate the small man. ‘One of the most important instruments of the People’s National Congress plans to develop Guyana now and to give social size to the little man is the co-operative….The co-operative will be for all, not for one group or race, but for all Guyanese’ (Birth of the Co-operative Republic. 1970)…..