The new year of 2018 has already dawned. As is customary, expectations are high that it will be better than the preceding years.
Regrettably, there does not appear to be much room for optimism both at the international level and national levels.
At the international level, the ongoing tension between the United States and North Korea continues to cast a dark shadow over the prospects for world peace. There seems to be no solution to the Syrian crisis as tens of thousands of people continue to seek refugee status in Europe even at great risk to themselves and their families. There is also the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar, Yemen and South Sudan which have resulted in the deaths of an untold number of men, women and children and the displacement of millions. The decision by President Trump to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to East Jerusalem in the latter part of this year has only served to inflame an already volatile situation in the Middle East.
At the national level, the closure of several sugar estates and the dismissal of thousands of sugar workers will certainly go down as one of the darker moments in the life of this nation. There is the decision by President Granger to unilaterally appoint a new Chairman of Gecom after having rejected a total of eighteen names submitted by the Opposition Leader which also will rank among the defining moments of 2017.
Several campaign promises by the administration have failed to see the light of day, including constitutional reforms, crime reduction, substantial salary increases for the nation’s public servants in particular teachers and nurses, and by no means least, a more participatory and inclusive governance mechanism. The fiasco in the last sitting of Parliament and the suspension of an Opposition Member of Parliament by the Speaker will be remembered down the corridors of time.
On a more positive note there is the disclosure by government of the ExxonMobil contract and the projected revenues amounting to millions of United States dollars which hopefully will enter the national coffers in the foreseeable future. One hopes that the benefits from oil will not be siphoned off by a privileged few, but will redound to the benefit of all Guyanese, in particular our pensioners and those in their twilight years. A one-off bonus to our pensioners in the New Year of 2018 could be a timely and rewarding gesture of goodwill by the administration to its most deserving citizens who would have contributed in one way or the other to the national patrimony. A part of the pre-signing bonus would be more than adequate to meet this expenditure.
I take this opportunity to wish all Guyanese a happy and productive New Year.