Local government should be liberating

I began this discourse on local government reform with the contention that elitist behaviour in this kind of matter has not served us well, and the events in the National Assembly last Thursday have reinforced this.

Local government: A bird’s eye view

Our local government system has its roots in the immediate post-emancipation period when the new freedmen sought social and economic liberation from the plantocracy by purchasing plantations and forming independent villages.

Plurality: A humbug to democracy

The single issue over which all Guyanese, and more so all opposition supporters, should unite and forcefully and immediately seek to remove is the constitutional provision that gives the presidency and its not inconsiderable trappings to the party with the largest plurality, and makes it possible for someone to become the president even if his party secures less than 20% of the votes at a general election.

APNU must lead charge against marginalisation

Let us not fool ourselves, all things remaining equal, and taking into account the outcome of the 2011 general elections, for the PPP/C to lose the executive at the next general elections, at the very least APNU cannot lose a significant number of votes to the AFC, and will have to take more than 15% more votes from the PPP/C.

APNU is disappointing many

Recently, the leadership of APNU has been coming in for some all-round battering, largely I believe because it has not developed and/or has not been able to transmit an acceptable vision of the future, and its political antics have left many confused and with the belief that the party is comfortable with its new parliamentary stature. 

Unhappiness at Independence

We are now in our 48th year of independence and the most cursory analysis of our dailies will leave us in no doubt that, notwithstanding the claims that we have made significant progress since 1966, and particularly since 1992, for many, Guyana is a very unhappy place.

Federalism and racism

Perhaps because I came to federalism by way of my undergraduate study of US government in the 1960s, when state rights was the cry of every racist bigot in the Southern states of the USA, and in one form or another the federal government had to continuously intervene to protect the rights of African Americans, I do not have much faith in federalism’s capacity to play a positive role in the drive for sensible ethnic living in divided societies.

The Prime Minister’s utopianism

I thank Prime Minister Mr Samuel Hinds for taking the time to clarify some of the comments I made in this column last week, in his letter “Shared governance not shared government” (SN 19/04/2013). 

The nature and consequences of ethnic dominance

Future Notes

If the denudation of opposition-orientated labour organisations is recognised as signifying the initial phase of the march to political/ethnic dominance, the vulgarly partisan 2011 issuing of radio licences and frequencies represents its apogee.

The Janet Jagan Effect

Future Notes

Context is everything and with the defeat of Janet Jagan in 1999, the political context in Guyana changed into the debilitating, acrimonious and anti-developmental environment we now inhabit. 

Not too late to mitigate discrimination in employment

Future Notes

I decided to consider the Prevention of Discrimination Act, Chapter 99:09 (No. 26 of 1997) separately because it appears to me that it provides enormous opportunities for us to deal with one of our most persistent problems: discrimination in employment in both the public and private sectors.

Where to PPP?

Future Notes

It does not matter if you are one of the most avowed critics of Cheddi Jagan.

Rohee, Hicken: The tyranny of ideas

Future Notes

Now that the dust is settling on the parliamentary participation issue involving Minister Clement Rohee, the time might be right for us to consider another important aspect of our political administration thrown up by the Linden debacle.

Constitutional reform must be agreed upon by ‘substantially all’ of us

Future Notes

Last week I argued that a state’s constitution usually takes precedence over general notions of majority rule and I also indicated that the United States Federalist Papers were written to encourage the states to support the ratification of the Federal Constitution and that James Madison believed that one of the best arguments in favour of federalism was its capacity to keep both minority and majority factions in check.

The scope of health reform should be broad

Future Notes

Based on an examination of the existing literature, a situational analysis and discussions with stakeholders, the 2010-2015 “Guyana: Country Cooperation Strategy” (CCS), constructed with the help of the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO), identified some twenty health challenges and seventeen health priorities.

Getting to the crux of health sector reform

Future Notes

Recently, the Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Mr Joseph Hamilton informed us that “a needful reform is required if the Ministry of Health is to better its current mode of operation.”  As reported, Mr.

A vision of a low carbon future is needed

Future Notes

Lest we succumb to the hopelessness that can very easily result from what has been a most acrimonious and debilitating political year, the holiday season presents a good opportunity for us to take a short break and turn our minds in other directions.

Outsourcing, Insourcing and Corruption

It is generally thought that all conscious practices proceed from some kind of theoretical construct and that if the theory is wrong, the practice will most likely prove insufficient.

The PPP/C has fooled itself!

Across the political divide, after a year in office, the populace appears to have given up any expectations that, with the exception of national elections sometime soon, much will result from the presidency of Mr.

PPP/C caught in a pincer

Cheddi Jagan was extremely proud of his government’s commitment to transparency and one of the most visible signs of this was his government’s ability to present the annual Auditor General’s Report after many years of default under the PNC regime.

Teacher retention: some policy positions

Cross Border Career Stretch in the Teaching Profession (cont’d) Since the idea is not to prevent but rather to facilitate an overseas career for those who wish it and have performed well, government can be more proactive in arranging such recruitment and putting reengagement incentives in place. 

The opposition cannot afford to fail

The current quarrel between the government, the Speaker of the National Assembly and the opposition over the content of the first Order Paper (parliamentary agenda) of this new parliamentary year keeps us in the same mode that has developed since the last general elections: a government blustering its way in the hope of finding an opportune moment to call a new election and an opposition determined to close the noose around the government’s neck.

Uninspiring plans for Guyana’s elderly

The first of the thirty-two recommendations found in the 2012 Guyana Report on Aging (the Report) states that “Associations of Older Persons could help educate about the rights of the elderly and promote their active participation in the community activities”.

Paltry services are available to the elderly

“Even though, the growing ageing population and the concomitant changes this will bring are viewed as a major socio-economic challenge for Guyana, other competing development priorities have overtaken the national agenda.

Policies for the elderly should be mainstreamed

Aging, along with and its moral and practical implications is so visible that most societies have had to establish norms to deal with it, but as Thomas R Cole, et al, observed in The Meaning of Aging and the Future of Social Security, “the ancient and medieval understandings of aging as a mysterious part of the eternal order of things gradually gave way to the secular, scientific, and individualist tendencies of modernity.

The elderly need an independent organisation

This intervention was motivated primarily by a report in the Stabroek News that from ten Caribbean programmes which were highlighted as “best practices” for the provision of services to the elderly by the Third Regional Intergovernmental Conference on Ageing in Latin America and the Caribbean, which took place recently in Costa Rica, Barbados was recognised for three of its programmes: the Home Care Programme, Nursing Pilot Project and its Information Communication Technology Programme.

The dangers of disclosure

The PPP likes to tell the story of how Arthur Schlesinger Jr., an adviser to the late President John F Kennedy in the 1960s, apologized to Dr.

The loss of strategic advantage

In 1989, after some twenty-five years in office, the PNC lost its strategic advantage over the PPP, and arguably left Guyana a more divided society than it was when it came to office in 1964.

Linden shows we need new governance

Even allowing that the unconscionable shooting and killing of protesters at Linden may have complicated matters for the government, how is it possible for a ruling party to concede so much on the major issues brought to the table by the other side but yet achieve so little?

Fair pay in the public sector

“The President’s pension and the Prime Minister’s pension shall be seven-eighths of the highest annual rate of salary paid to such persons at any time as President or Prime Minister as the case may be or two hundred and four thousand dollars per annum, whichever is the greater,” says the 1991 amendment to the Pensions (President, Parliamentary and Special Officials) Act Chapter 27:03, which now appears extremely dated.

Openness is apparently only for ‘the other side’

It is generally believed that the presidency of Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo constituted one of the most autocratic periods in the post-independence political history of Guyana in spite of the fact that he did not have control of both the government and the PPP the way Cheddi and Janet Jagan did.