WPA’s nonsensical proposal for cash transfers comes on the back of the miserable failure of its members to deliver in the gov’t

Dear Editor,

It appears that the WPA seeks to condemn those who don’t agree with their nonsensical approach to serious politics and their methods used to address the livelihood of the most vulnerable, in particular the underprivileged and unemployed youths in our society.

Mr Tacuma Ogunseye, an Executive of WPA, in his Stabroek News letter dated Wednesday, August 15, 2018, calls that Party’s critics, which apparently include me “detractors” and “dishonest” – just because I don’t agree with his comrade and party Co-leader, Professor Clive Thomas’s “wild statement” on cash handouts at a public meeting to remember the atrocities of slavery and the victory over the most brutal form of inhumanity the world has ever experienced. As we seek to show empathy and respect, it might have been good for Professor Thomas to also recognise the inhumane conditions imposed on  indentured labourers imported from India and elsewhere to undertake the equally backbreaking work done by the then emancipated slaves.

No one denies that there are those in our society who need immediate help to lift them out of the most inhumane living conditions resembling the time of enslavement and indentureship. What amazes most of us, friends and admirers of Professor Thomas, is the extent to which he made such a loose statement without clearly thinking it through to the very end. After all, we expect our learned professor to work out such a proposal to its finest detail. 

People of worth don’t need promises and “free money”.  What they need is a solution for the balance of their life. As the adage says, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime”.

These fellows in “what is left in the WPA”, are part of the APNU, a coalition of another coalition that clearly has not been working in the interest of the toiling masses; and hence this “throw away” proposal, is a desperate attempt to catch votes and get recognition.

Clearly, our friend Tacuma and others in the once-called “Rodney party”, have been caught with their pants down. And even his explanation to make Professor Thomas’ call more reasonable, hardly helped since Mr. Ogunseye has now introduced the concept of a percentage of gross oil revenue of an undefined sum.  Did Ogunseye consult with Professor Thomas in writing his letter or was this an equally poor alternative?

Many Guyanese who supported the WPA’s participation in the Administration believe that, unlike the Justice For All Party which has only one party member represented in the entire Administration, the WPA has several of its members and executives employed by the Administration but they have failed miserably to deliver in positions where they have been placed. Three areas of distinct responsibilities have been given to the WPA, as part of coalition responsibilities. These are:

1. Education – Hon. Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine was the Minister of Educa-tion where a  huge amount of funds were pumped into the system. Here WPA was dealing with the most essential aspects of human development that will make a person “fit and proper” for the balance of his or her life. 

This was the best opportunity to establish a mass literacy  programme to bring into real life – thousands of our youthful population, who, for one reason or another, were unable to complete their formal education.

A study commissioned by Hon. Minister Roopnaraine, confirmed his worst fears within the education system. While efforts are being made to correct what went wrong, over the last 15 years of Jagdeoite PPP/c misrule, the pace of reformation is slow. Why?

2. The sugar industry – Professor Thomas became the Chairman of the largest single employer in the country and the most controversial industry in Guyana. It is a history well-known to the professor. But in government, in less than three years, he made more than 4,000 sugar workers redundant, a record in the history of the sugar industry or any other industry. Therefore, would the redundant sugar workers be the first or last on the list to receive the US$5,000 cash transfers?

Could it be that Professor Thomas and the others in the WPA are trying to appease their collective conscience by offering “handouts” to the sugar workers and other depressed sections of our society? Had the WPA utilized their strength in the Coalition to ensure the promises of the coalition to re-establish GAIBANK, the Agricultural and Industrial bank, the financial basis would have been available to facilitate a collective ownership proposal.

If the WPA had utilised their strength in the Coalition to ensure the full activation of the Small Business Act 2004,  which the PPP/C failed to implement the most important elements of, Guyanese would have had the “Small Business Develop-ment Fund” providing support and access to financing for small businesses and on the way to making the small man a real man. It could, too, have worked to ensure that at least twenty percent of the procurement of goods and services required annually by the Government is obtained from small businesses which is also enshrined in Small Business Act 2004. None of these initiatives were dependent on the impending oil and gas revenues.

3. SARA – the State Assets Recovery Agency – has been up and running for more than two years but there has been no tangible result.

Despite Professor Thomas’ outburst of a conservative estimate of $333–340 Billion that Guyana can recover annually as stolen public assets during the Jagdeo period of rule, no one has been held to account and not one case has been remotely brought before the courts for civil recovery for any of the claims made by our goodly professor. Why?

Needless to say the amount of money Professor Thomas has projected to recover is by far in excess of the projected income from the impending oil and gas sector, which is pegged at $76B come first oil 2020. Therefore, I was expecting Profes-sor Thomas and the WPA putting out a proposal for a direct cash transfer based on the $333–340 Billion annual recoverable stolen public assets.

Guyana does not need oil money to do all the things that were placed in the hands of the WPA and Professor Thomas.

The many uncertainties of the oil and gas industry can become an albatross around our necks given our lack of control and the colossal expectations on the expected revenue from the pending petroleum industry. 

The absolute truth is that the previous PPP/C government mismanaged our country’s natural resources and allowed foreign institutions and forces to misguide and manipulate our economic policies and programme by adopting foreign ideologies. As the most reputable, prominent, and well known economist to the lesser known economists associated with this administration, Professor Thomas failed to advise H.E. President Granger, on how to reverse any of these policies or to develop our people for whom free money seems to be our last remaining option. 

No country can formulate long-term economic strategy in an ad hoc, opportunistic manner. What is now required of Professor Thomas is for him to take the public admonition by  H.E. the President and to submit a proper professional paper setting out his proposal for the utilization of part of the oil revenue to pay direct cash transfers to each Guyanese household of which the 2012 Guyana Population & Housing Census’s reported 204,625 households of which 36% of households lived in moderate poverty. Sorry to say but this is not something Ogunseye can do for the goodly professor.

Yours faithfully,

Jaipaul Sharma

Leader of the JFAP

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