…on economic anaemia
The not-so-new APNU/AFC government seems to be washing its hands of the economic malaise that’s enveloped the country since it acceded to office. Pressie says Guyana’s six revenue earners – bauxite, rice, sugar, gold, diamond, and timber – showed signs of “anaemia” since 2014. Fair enough…we’ll take him at his word even though he should show us some figures, no? But the question is: what were he and his government doing since 2014? Wasn’t that when APNU and AFC were huffing and puffing they’d blow the PPP house down with their “no confidence” motion.
The two Opposition parties were all but joined at the hip as they moved in the Assembly to control all the levers of power in that institution to derail the PPP government they defined as “minority”. They explicitly started talking about what they would do WHEN they took power: not “if” but “when”. So were they just talking through their hat? Or “talking for talking sake”? Most folks knew that’s the AFC duo of Nagamootoo and Ramjattan SOP – but surely the PNC folks like Granger and company knew that sooner they’d have to put their money where their mouth was.
And we arrive at their Manifesto. We can do worse than start with Bauxite, where the workers are their “constituency”. They promised to: “Rescue and modernise the bauxite industry.” You rescue something that’s in trouble…so where’s the plan to “modernise”. All we’ve seen this government doing is to harass Bosai – which might just walk away from the kind of slash-and-burn industrial relations that Simona Broomes’ determined to practice.
The manifesto also promised to, “Invite and support foreign investment from reputable and known multinationals to develop an aluminium industry in Guyana.” Where’s the invitation to the “known multinationals”. Aluminium smelting needs massive amounts of electricity, so if the foregoing wasn’t just hot air, why has the government washed their hands of Hydro Projects? Or were they talking about a long-term, 20 year plan?
Now if they could play this cruel joke to their own supporters to raise expectations of a better life that was never in the cards – we shouldn’t be surprised at what’s playing out in the rice and sugar industries. Rice farmers are now told that they’re on their own on marketing. So what if the entire industry collapsed and 100,000 people sink into poverty? The APNU/AFC has to maintain its “market fundamentalist” credentials!!
But hold it a minute!! What about their Manifesto promise on rice: “Negotiation of additional new international markets for rice from Guyana”?
On the other “anaemic” revenue earners, we say no more. It’s enough to make a grown man puke!!
…to obey traffic laws
This Eyewitness has written before of Moses Nagamootoo’s compulsions of the trappings of office. Forget that he was stripped of all the powers he was promised as PM under the Cummingsburg Accord: the perks are the thing, baby!! So here he was, rushing off to the airport at 8 in the morning to jet off to his well-earned two-week leave. We know he wasn’t late for the plane – but here he was with sirens of the outriders and his convoy blaring the rush hour traffic out of the way.
While the State rag said he wasn’t going to Texas or the Mid East, it neglected to say how badly the brand new $22M SUV that was just acquired for the PM was damaged.
But what the heck…as promised, he was using the SUV to visit his “constituents”, no?
…to call in an excuse
“Quasi-political” Reg 10 REO Ramaya maintains stoutly he didn’t “snub” the Reg Council when he didn’t show up at a meeting where the REO’s presence was mandatory. Said he went to doctor, had to take a “test”; waited for the test results, and only called when Council meeting was over.
Couldn’t he’ve called while waiting for the test?
… or follow the leader
Nagamootoo just waltzed off on a “private trip” with his wife. It was described as a “two-week leave” – after four months on the job, such as it is. Now in the Private Sector, you’ve got to work at least a year before you “earn” your leave. Is it different for the Government service? Or are there different strokes for different folks. Or then again, maybe the man from Whim’s leading public servants from the front on this vexed “leave” business: use it or lose it.
Anyhow, this paper said he’d headed off to Texas but this was denied by the Kronic State newspaper. Presumably, they know where he’s headed but wouldn’t say. They did also say Nagamootoo wasn’t jetting off to the Middle East (mediating between ISIS and the US?) which no one had even claimed. But that’s exactly the problem, isn’t it?
Nagamootoo is a PUBLIC official – the SENIOR Vice President and Prime Minister. He’s imbued with tremendous power – by the Constitution and the even more sacrosanct Cummingsburg Accord. As a PUBLIC official, the public has a right to know where the repository of all these massive powers is reposing. Now we know that Nagamootoo’s boss had also jetted off to a “private” trip to the States and no one ever did find out his destination. Well, sort of. The Minister of Sate Joseph Harmon had joked (we thought) that Pressie had gone off to get some new clothes. (Even then, his Black Shirt Jac was literally and figuratively wearing thin!)
But now we know that Harmon wasn’t kidding. Didn’t everyone notice what a dashing figure he cut with his Nehru Jacket in New York after his face-off with Maduro? Is it possible that Nagamootoo’s also had it with his dated duds? Those cheap “Mafia Don” suits his valet outfitted him with did make his look sinister.
Whatever it is, we can’t have our second most powerful PUBLIC figures doing disappearing acts at the drop of a hat. Who will wield all that power in his absence?
Like telling the Kronic what to print on his whereabouts!!
…on drunk lushes
The GTimes caught up with the Traffic Chief to find out why more than 99 per cent of the individuals whose pics are released by their PRO in their “name and shame” programme hail from Berbice. Since this has been the pattern ever since the programme was initiated, it wasn’t surprising that folks figured most of the drunkards in Guyana come from the ancient county. The reporter evidently decided to find out why.
In the paper’s Friday’s edition, the Traffic Chief said it wasn’t so. With the 100 or so reports of inebriated drivers the Traffic Dept in Georgetown receive weekly, he said they have to wait until the persons are actually convicted until their pics are plastered across the papers. But this still begs the question – why only fellas from Berbice pics emerge from the 100 persons per week nabbed? Is the Chief telling us that only Berbicians are convicted? Doesn’t sound right.
The Chief also suggested that maybe the Berbice traffic cops are the most conscientious in sending in pics. So are there SOP’s on this or not?
But with all the Traffic Chief’s “explanations”, the Stabber published another dragnet of drunk drivers on the same day. And guess what? Five out of Six were from Berbice!!!!
Shouldn’t we “name and shame” some of these lax cops, for shaming our PM from Berbice?
Labour officers – with “I is” Broomes in tow, raided a hotel in Barrica. They swooped over to Linden to check up on Bosai workers’ issues. Returning to Gtown, they traipsed over to Regent Street to check on whether those bloodsuckers were exploiting shop girls.
But couldn’t find time to meet one aggrieved worker, gypped out of his NIS payments, who showed up at her office.
Now, from the day we got our own Parliament – when the British decided we were all grown up and ready to run our own affairs, the Opposition chaired the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). And what exactly is the PAC and why this tradition?
Well, in the British Parliamentary democracy, the Toffs knew that in the “National Assembly” once a Government has a majority, the song of the Minority Opposition is pretty much “Do what you want wid me!”. It doesn’t matter how nasty the motion is – the “ayes” from the Government bench will always “have it”. The Speaker doesn’t even bother to lift his head up as he calls the vote.
So to give some meaning to the essence of democracy – “the other side must be heard” – the Chairing of the PAC is given to the Opposition. The said PAC can enquire into how the Government spent the funds its “ayes” gave it to spend. Even though they can’t change anything – they can at least identify excesses committed. The arrangement at least allows skulduggery to be exposed – albeit after the fact. Now the PAC also have Government’s MP’s – so it’s not like the Opposition can “do what they want wid dem!”
And we arrive at the “bad-minedness” of the new Government. Suddenly they’ve decided that since Jagdeo might be the Chair of the PAC – the arrangement should be abandoned!! And this in the face of the conventions of Parliament – with as much force as the written law, in the British system – that you just change Constitutional whimsically. Even if your token PM is from Whim!
The reason for the flip-flop, the Government’s partisans say, is the PAC under Jagdeo’s chairmanship will be reviewing the last years of the PPP’s administration. We can hear your collective “What the *#~%!!!!”, dear readers. So how come the PPP didn’t change the transition when they took over from the PNC? And who’s messed up our finances more than the PNC?
So Jagdeo can do what he wants in the PAC? Are the Government MP’s on the Committee so bereft of testicular fortitude to stand up to him? – Notwithstanding what Nagamootoo might’ve whimpered to them!! The fact of the matter is, after Jagdeo’s tour de force during the budget debate- in which he made Winston Jordan and Nagamootoo look like water boys – the Government’s shi**g bricks about repeat performances!
So this Eyewitness just hopes APNU/AFC will man up and take their medicine.
It might just help them with their motions!
This Eyewitness understands that Public Servants were shafted by the new Government – who, they thought, were their friends. And for whom they’d voted en masse. In their Manifesto, APNU/AFC’d announced that within 100 days, they’d give Public Servants “significant” salary increases. Jollity and mirth filled the halls and offices at Ministries when “their party” won. Counting their chickens before they were hatched, they went on a shopping binge – on credit.
When their Government finally gave them a “raise” with the right hand, they took it back with the left hand when they only made it applicable for HALF the year! And a lot of faces went sour. So Patrick Yarde – the 70-yr-old President of an organisation in which all members have to retire at 55 – decided to take revenge.
He announced to an administration with 3 Brigadiers, one COP, one Commodore, three Colonels and three Captains (there are too many lower ranks to mention) it is top level – that he’s going to unionise the discipline forces!!
Revenge is best served cold.
…on Amerindians’ guns
With (armed) crimes spiralling out of control on the Coast, Ramjattan grandly announced a “gun amnesty” to counter it. 142 guns were turned in. Problem is, they’re all antiques – with 122 from the interior.
They were used by Amerindians to hunt for meat – but with supermarkets introduced they’re superfluous. Crime? Still spiralling.
Today’s the birth anniversary of Gandhi, who the British PM of his time (Churchill) called “the naked fakir”. Now while nowadays we tend to think of “the Mahatma” as a creature from a murky past, both President Granger and PM Nagamootoo were born before Gandhi was killed. And you don’t see them as “murky”, do you?? Now!! Now!! So you’d think – with Gandhi’s philosophy of “non-violence” and environmental consciousness, politically correct in the world today – his name might’ve been invoked a tad more frequently, no?
One reason for this is because, sadly, everything’s refracted through ethnic lenses in Guyana. Gandhi is “Indian”, you see, so if a non-Indian Guyanese fella’s inclined towards the “pacific settlement of disputes” as the UN so quaintly puts it, he’s more likely to quote Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. Both of whom, not so incidentally, had no qualms about acknowledging the role of Gandhi in shaping their mobilisational strategies.
But like him or hate him, you can’t ignore Gandhi. This doesn’t mean he was some god walking on earth – blessed with omniscience. But because he started from first principles when addressing challenges – and rejected the received wisdom – he was able to “become real”. He didn’t go around regurgitating any “isms” – even Hinduism. Another reason was that he was able to open – as he put it – the windows of his mind to all cultures, without being blown over by any.
He didn’t have any hang-ups about acknowledging his inspiration from Thoreau or from the Bible of whatever. Didn’t make him less a Hindu. In Guyana today, your Eyewitness would commend this openness to the ideas of “the other” to his fellow Guyanese more than any other value practiced by Gandhi.
Right now, the economy’s being asphyxiated by the new Government because they don’t want to continue with anything that might’ve been inspired by former President Jagdeo. Now why does it matter where the idea comes from once it benefits Guyana in the end? China developed because one leader had the guts to say that “it doesn’t matter whether the cat is grey or white – once it catches mice, that’s OK”. And boy did they catch some mice!!
What’s wrong with AFHEP? The road’s already built – at a cost of US$23M. Norway’s already put up US$80M… and GPL can purchase the power. So if they were correct to accuse Jagdeo and company of inflating the costs to “thief the money”, why haven’t they located another investor? Or was the PPP and Jagdeo right on the cost, all along?
And imagine green power will be seen as being so – can we say it?! – Gandhian!
Sase Singh continues with his vendetta against his and Glen Lall’s bête noir – Bharrat Jagdeo. In fact Singh’s been so diligent scribbling furiously from his basement in the Bronx (149th St, Fort Apache?) in pursuit of “revenge” for not getting “wuk” from Jagdeo, that Lall just offered him a stipend to write in the Muckraker (in ADDITION to his squeeze at the Kronic, courtesy Nagamootoo).
Anyhow Sase returns to the Berbice Bridge and exposes he has even less of an understanding of P3’s (Public Private Partnerships) than Winston Jordan. Or whoever decided to make a promise to take money from the pocket of a private corporation before getting their permission. But Singh’s challenge isn’t only on the principles of P3’s. Evidently his wi-fi must’ve failed him in the Bronx since he’s tilting at a windmill.
Hasnt he read that with the resignation of the BBCI directors from QA and NGPC, the Government has a majority on the Board – via the NIS and NICL?
And if they’re “maan” enough, they could vote in whatever toll reduction they want?
Are we this backward? “Pottery” as a “technological” career at the job fair? Jeez! Pottery’s been around even while man was in the Stone Age!
…on job training
It’s said that “new brooms sweep clean” and this new Government’s been talking a lot about “job training” – even a National Service! But this Eyewitness is really concerned about all the money the Government and NGO’s and foreign Governments and the private sector and the multilateral and bilateral financial institutions and everybody else and their uncle have already been spending on “Job training”.
Trust this Eyewitness it adds up. The World Bank alone spent some US$9B last year on job training and when you add on all the money all the above-mentioned others throw at the “problem” you’re talking about at least 3 times that number. The thing is folks look around and they see scads and scads of other folks not working. Big problem, no? We’re told that in Guyana alone 40% of the youths are out of a job. SO WHAT TO DO?
Well if people aren’t working then TRAIN them for jobs so they can work and get money and settle down and live happily ever after, no? Problem solved, all right. But not so quick…has anyone checked to find out if the above story is right? Fact of the matter is it’s not – and a new study that your trusty Eyewitness stumbled over proves its case. Seems that with all the training going on there’s very little evidence that it helps with securing jobs for the trainees or that they provide the ancillary benefit touted by these sort of problems – leaving a life of crime. It’s like putting the cart before the horse: there are no jobs available for the newly-trained youths – who end up more frustrated and pissed at the world.
In Guyana, the US Embassy’s been running a job training programme for young people who’d run afoul of the law (but not too seriously): “Skills and Knowledge for Youth Employment” (SKYE). This programme, operational since 2012, is trying to kill two birds with one stone: transmitting skills and moving young fellas away from crime. It recently came to attention when they stepped up to take responsibility for “training” the 40 youths President Granger had pardoned.
The question is one that not only the US Government should ask – and Obama has recently expanded the programme – but Guyana and other “beneficiaries” as well. How many of the graduates have gotten jobs and gone on to lead productive lives? If we go by the cited study, “very little” would be the answer. We date then to do this study! And for sure the spending’s far out of whack with the results.
The solution? Give money to folks, that’ll create jobs.
But this administration would never do that, would it!?
Some folks don’t know to quit when they’re ahead. Just yesterday we reported that Sase Sigh had kissed and made up with his ex-colleagues in the AFC. And had consequently landed a gig at the Kronic pushing a pen. Not as much money as Ramaya who’d also quit but hey!! Ramaya had fed the multitudes from Georgetown many a times when they went “over theriver”: Duck curry and Dholl Puri!
Anyhow our paper was barely dry when we saw Sase Singh had transferred his pen to the Muckraker! And was carrying on at a rate about sugar. Does this mean Sase Singh had quit the STC again. Hardly! You’ve got to remember there’s very little difference between the Kronic and The Muckraker these days. Birds of a feather will help out their soul mates.
But why sugar? Jeez!! Did you read that piece yesterday? Sugar means Skeldon and Skeldon means dumping on Jagdeo.
And there nothing Sase Singh and Mohan Lall like doing better!
Seems this administration’s determined to exterminate vendors. Pity. Rather than “skills training”, give these entrepreneurs some funds and just watch them transform Guyana.
It was done in Peru. By women. But then they won’t be captive protestors!
…peddled on sugar
Some fellas can really hold a grudge. Take this fella Sase Singh from the Bronx – who resigned “in disgust” last year from the AFC. He seems to’ve swallowed his disgust (not to mention “pride”) when he rejoined them after they got into government. Ahhh…the lure of lucre! They gave him a squeeze at the Kronic where he writes letters and columns extolling the virtues of the government – and he’s happy as a pig in poop.
When he was back in Guyana and a member of the PPP, he was one of the fiercest critic – nay! enemy – of the PNC in general and Granger in particular. Through his PPP connections – remember the PPP was in office, and their word carried weight back then – he wangled a scholarship to England to study finance. On his return the fella decides he should be “Finance Minister” – just like that! When President Jagdeo told him he just couldn’t make the grade, an enemy was born!!
Which he now wages from his basement in the Bronx, wielding his old laptop. So the other day, he laces into – who else? – Jagdeo and claims that the IMF-certified consistent growth rate achieved by the PPP in the last couple of decades, wasn’t due to PPP’s policies, but from “wealth transfer” from the EU because of “preferential prices” on sugar. Can you believe this joker?!! No wonder Jagdeo gave him the bum’s rush!
Now, Sase Singh writes a lot of letters on sugar and surely he knows that the so-called “preferential prices” on sugar was negotiated in 1975 after sugar prices had spiked to a record high of US$0.64 cents a pound. And that the EU knew they got a good bargain just as Britain had gotten after WWII when they negotiated the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement …which was subsumed into the EU Lome Convention.
And it wasn’t just the guaranteed supply of sugar that tickled their fancy – under the cover of the Protocol they could engage in all kinds of protectionist skulduggery in their Agricultural Policy. The question is why doesn’t Sase Singh point out that Europeans got a “wealth transfer” from us since 1616 on sugar and sugar refining – which gave them their start in their industrial revolution? Why doesn’t he dismiss the phenomenal growth of Europe and the US because of these “wealth transfers” from their colonies?
Well this Eyewitness will tell you why. It’s because the bile of his hatred for Jagdeo is so bitter, he’s become more jaundiced and “cock-eyed” than you-know-who!
And then again, he has to sing for his supper!
…on big power benevolence
The myth peddled by Sase Singh about the EU’s generosity in transferring their wealth to us out of the bigness of their heart has a long history. There was the myth that the Europeans enslaved us for our own good – since we didn’t have souls much less culture, in Africa. Or saved us from famines in India – never mind that India, by their own accounts was fabulously rich – before they got there! And of course as recently as 2007, the British celebrated their beneficence in stopping the slave trade – after of course, they’d committed serial genocide on millions of Africans on the Atlantic and the plantations.
While fellas like Singh think such crassness from big powers (“Brittania ruled the waves”!!) is over, in reality, it’s just disguised. Every big power, be it Britain then, America now and China in the future, acts to protect and further its own interests.
And in a world of finite resources and insatiable wants, it’s never a win-win scenario.
And guess who gets screwed over every time?
Your Eyewitness just saw an ad from Coca Cola asking that we “Share a Coke”. They promise to personalise the experience by having “popular” names on each bottle.
Like “Balgobin” and “Quasie”?