Almost every person of Guyanese nationality welled up with fury at the ‘’alarming’’ description of Guyana by the American, Clifford Krauss. Who is he to denounce a country he wasn’t born in? Well, like all outsiders, Mr. Krauss sees Guyana as an underdeveloped, uncivilized and corrupt nation.
He didn’t consider that Guyana’s geographic location renders it ‘’a watery wilderness.’’ He didn’t consider Guyana’s unfortunate political past. Why should he consider Guyana’s setbacks? These are matters of no importance to him. He sees Guyana exactly how most or all international people do. Do you think he cares that Guyana is a cook up rice and chicken curry nation? No, he doesn’t. His focus is on our political structure, our economic status, our government policies and programmes, and our progressive ideas and plans for the future.
Upon the release and circulation of Krauss’s article, almost every Guyanese became distracted and offended by his representation of Guyana that they missed the underlying questions.
Is Guyana equipped to manage oil opulence?
Will the leaders mismanage the ‘’incoming wealth?’’
Will corruption be exacerbated?
Will there be the creation of Swiss Bank accounts?
Will criminal activities escalate?
Will the money be squandered and stolen?
Will the wealth be unequally distributed?
Will the wealth be hoarded by only the powerful and influential?
Will the political environment be facilitative for foreign investment?
There are so many more questions arising when there is oil wealth on the horizon. Although these questions were not directly asked by Mr. Clifford Krauss, his analysis of Guyana’s political, social and economic environments gave the implication that these are some of the questions to be asked.
He wrote, ‘’But there are obstacles. If history is any guide, countries that discover oil often waste their opportunity, as the resource blends seamlessly with corruption. Countries with weak political institutions like Guyana are especially vulnerable.’’ What untruth can be found in those statements?
He then quoted Guyanese-born Finance professor, Floyd Haynes who is a consultant to the Business Ministry. Haynes said,’’ You have an alignment of money and power in the hands of the state, so the party in power controls the resources, and the money is usually squandered, misapplied or downright stolen.’’
So really what Krauss did was present a very objective and analytical article. So why the pettiness? Why the written attacks? What is the purpose of them? Does Guyana appear more couth to international spectators? This solves nothing.
As a country of resilience, commentary like that of Krauss’s should elevate our nation to greater heights, to dream and do bigger things. Guyana’s been set back for too long and yes, we’ve made tremendous progress as a nation but we are still way behind. We who live here see it as nothing because we are accustomed to it, but to those on the outside, it is something. Something to not sit comfortably with.
At this turning point in our country’s economic landscape, we have the opportunity to install the policies to facilitate growth in every sector, to suppress corruption, open our economy to rewarding investment deals and to create the route to development for every citizen. The world is rapidly advancing and Guyana needs to be included in the race. Guyana’s future can be gleaming with smart cities and automation. We need the environment to realise this.
Mr. Krauss’s dissection of Guyana appears negative but the truth has been overlooked. Guyana has not experienced the wealth that is now imminent and as history reveals, poor countries having grasped and tasted the rewards of oil discovery often become victims of the enricher.
Another point to note is with the rise of renewable energy and climate policy agreements, the oil industry can become a falling one. So excitement is accompanied by contemplation.
It is now left to Guyana to prove herself; to rise in her glory. She is poised to accelerating growth but she has to be erudite in her executions. So instead of expressing bitterness to Mr. Krauss, thank him and prove him wrong, Guyana.