Government must allow the watchdog of democracy to do its job

Dear Editor,

I refer to your page three article published on Wednesday, February 7, 2018 titled ‘Oil summit opens today,’ and within the last paragraphs of the said article, I was disheartened and enraged to read the comments by head of Go-invest and the exclusion of media from an event that will impact how the oil sector operates with key business personnel. While it was clarified by the PR that the media were indeed invited, they however have limited abilities that reek of trying to curtail the content of reportage.

Now sift through the debris of big names and generalized words with ambiguous meanings. This conference is being hosted by the Ministry of Natural Resources, effectively making it a public interest summit. I repeat, it is of public interest. Now attendees are from a wide section of the private sector, local and international, who essentially want a piece of the pie. Great! We all know private investments are an engine for economic growth, but what stymies this growth is a culture of secrecy and isolation.

My question is simple, why prevent the media from accessing the full event? If the government is hosting such a venture, why then adopt a stance of hostility and exclusivity? Are we the Guyanese populace, not good enough to know and understand what’s going on? The taxes that we carry on our backs through the sweat of work and dedication is not enough for government and other stakeholders to share information with us?

Another thing, are we also paying for this event? Yes I saw sponsors, but how much was our contribution? I am but an ordinary citizen and I might not have a full understanding of how things work within the government, but the money the government has, isn’t that from taxpayers? And if so, do we not automatically have a stake in this event? And isn’t it the media who then must be privy to discussions at a government event?

I echo sentiments in the daily news that consistently calls on all government and all related parties to operate within the margins of transparency. Because Guyana is on the cusp of greatness, the attitudes and strategies that are adopted now will set the tone of what happens in the future. They should be transparent! They all must be held to a higher level of accountability. And in achieving this, they must let the watchdog of democracy do its job, else they teeter perilously on the pillars of despotism.

Yours faithfully,

Cassandra Persaud

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