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Op-Ed: MISPLACED PRIORITIES AND PARTY PARAMOUNTCY

A former US Judge and Religious leader, Dallin H. Oaks said: “Desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions.”The Coalition Government is fast approaching the median of its term in office. As a result, there is more than sufficient evidence and empirical data available for one to surmise what the desires of this Government are, its priorities and indeed, the resultant actions flowing therefrom.

What must be obvious to any objective bystander is that there is no desire by this Government to do that, which is necessary to bring about economic progress, to forge ethnic and national unity, to promote democracy and constitutionality, or to improve the social and financial welfare of the people of this country, moreover, the poor and the powerless. Therefore, these are not matters that enjoy priority status on the agenda of this Government. Indeed, what we have witnessed from the inception is a desire reflective in a plethora of policies directed at witch-hunting and persecuting political opponents, widespread discriminatory practices against those whom the Administration perceive as supporters of the PPP, blatant violations of democratic norms and practices at every level of the governmental and state institutions, egregious violations and manipulations of the Constitution and an array of tax measures and governmental policies that have brought the economy to its knees, coupled with reckless neglect of the productive sectors with the cumulative effect of devastating consequences on the disposable income and indeed, the welfare of Guyanese of every class. Inherent in these policies and practices, one can cull the priorities of this Government.

Naturally, this approach has created a very poisoned political atmosphere, a depressing economic climate and a society where the population, including supporters of the Government, is quickly losing hope in the future of their country. A situation that is now historically synonymous with PNC Governments. What is inexplicable, even to supporters to this Administration, is that the Administration is either oblivious to the realities around them or they simply do not care. I am not sure which is worse.

calls fallen on deaf ears

So against the dismal backdrop outlined above, we are witnessing the Government proceeding merrily along its decidedly self-destructive path. In so doing, it continues at every turn, to ignore the calls of every major stakeholder organisation in the country. These calls came to reverse the over 200 tax measures imposed; to reconsider the decision to close GuySuCo; to withdraw the SARA Bill; to stop the executive interference with independent constitutional bodies, including the Judiciary and the Service Commissions; to cease the widespread racial and political discrimination; to assist the rice farmers; to reinstate the regime of incentives designed to attract foreign and local investments; to direct SOCU to its real mandate of investigating suspicious AML/CFT transactions and to stop using it as a weapon against the political Opposition and the business community; to remove the burdensome impositions from our small and medium scale miners; to withdraw the Broadcasting (Amendment) Law; to curb the massive corruption in Government; to stop the colossal wastage of taxpayers’ dollars on meaningless exercises like commission of inquiries; to launch stimuli packages to energize a slothful economy and to rescind the unilateral appointment of the Chairman of GECOM. All these calls have fallen on deaf ears. No Government in a democracy can survive with such a track record of public neglect, unparalleled incompetence and diabolical levels of corruption.

In fact, instead of heeding the calls emanating from every corner of civil society and across the political spectrum, the Government seems to get more obstinate in its ways with each passing day. Indeed, with the unilateral appointment of a Chairman of GECOM, the Government has abandoned all charades of acting democratically, has tossed the Constitution aside and has signaled a clear and settled intention to formerly descend into the abyss of authoritarianism and political dictatorship.

At the same time, the Government continues to accord priority to ceremonies, celebrations, the hosting of local and international conferences and embark upon projects that continue to hemorrhage the Treasury without earning a dollar for the nation. So we have had an abundance of awards ceremonies, celebrations and commemorations, the hosting of international meetings and conferences and a host of projects like the building of arches, monuments, the construction of walkways, roundabouts, anniversary celebrations and such “bread and circus events” – all of which consume billions of dollars from the Treasury – while at the same time, there is almost, a criminal neglect of the productive sectors, which earn for this country. For example, the Attorney General has hosted a number of international conferences, which other countries have declined to host because of financial constraints. He mindlessly slaps himself on the back in self-congratulations for hosting these events, quixotically perceived as major accomplishments.

bankruptcy

If you are to simply translate this into your personal life, perhaps you will get a clearer picture. Just imagine you holding parties, celebrations and such social events, coupled with redecorating and repainting your house at regular intervals, while at the same time you neglect your earning capacity. So you do not go to work regularly and you do not concentrate on efforts and endeavours, which either earn you an income or augment your current income. The result is inevitable bankruptcy. It is along this very path that this Government is taking the nation and it is manifestly blind to the consequences.

I just returned from the United States, where I learnt that a huge delegation from the PNC, headed by the President will be jetting off this weekend to attend social events and parties in Atlanta, Georgia, in celebrating two and half years in Government. Of course, we will be told that the funds for these wining and dining events will come from the PNC or from donors. But sensible Guyanese know differently. The truth is that this party, while in Government, does not ideologically see itself as separate and apart from the Government. This is precisely why it promulgated the concept of party paramountcy in the past, where the party’s General Secretary managed and financed the party with taxpayers dollars from within a Ministry established for this very purpose, styled “the Ministry of National Mobilization”. This is the very Ministry that Dr. Rupert Roopnarine and Dr. Walter Rodney were charged for torching. I have no doubt that this Ministry was chosen as a target for arson, specifically because it was the conduit through which the PNC parasite off the Treasury. From all indications, much have not changed.

A party that is born and bred with that mentality can only stay in power through rigged elections, because its ideas and philosophy do not permit it to deliver goods and services to an electorate. Therefore, its very survival depends upon something other than dispassionate and objective popular support from the masses. Race and ethnicity have been and will continue to be the source of sustenance of the PNC. A rigged election is the only vehicle through which such a party can access and remain in government. Once elections are democratic, the PNC will be out of Government, as night follows day. Needless to say, once tribal and racial politics end in Guyana, the PNC is bound to die a natural death.
Mohabir Anil Nandlall, MP, Attorney-at-Law

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