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The exploitation of Guyana oil resources has so far enriched our coffers with a sum of over US$206 million. Every Guyanese son and daughter are anxiously looking forward not just for trickle down benefits but some form of direct cash transfer, such as the immediate lowering of the income tax ceiling (PAYE), restoring child tax credit, and reduction in electricity and gas prices. Government must restore the right to free education from nursery to university, as enshrined in the Guyana Constitution, which they violated and arbitrarily took away from the people, in particular our youth and working class.
Where more than 30 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, oil revenue must be directed to a Poverty Alleviation Programme immediately. This must include the vulnerable across demographics, according to need, not the grants and incentives the Irfaan Ali regime is handing out like bribes, targeted benefits and coercement to certain sections of society as others are deliberately ignored. Government must also put out a plan immediately to raise the minimum wage. The pandemic, whereas it has affected all, has created greater economic disadvantage for the working poor, women and elderly. The little pittance of $25,000 COVID-19 cash grant is nothing and the oil money must be used to offset the suffering of the vulnerable and poor.
It is unfortunate at this juncture of Guyana’s history, when we have embarked on exploiting our oil resources that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), which has been declared by Transparency International to be the most corrupt government in the English-speaking Caribbean and has a known track record for its squandermania, corruption and plundering of Guyana’s resources, is in the seat of power to preside over the management of our oil revenue.
The vindictiveness of the regime, that is evident once again post August 2020, leaves many to wonder whether African Guyanese, the working class and poor will be able to enjoy the benefits derived from our oil exploitation. Government’s efforts to marginalise and discriminate against the descendants of slaves, brought here to this country under force to build riches for others, have become more evident as a part of an agenda. It is an agenda to destroy African capital, political strength, dignity and self-worth. It is the continuation of the programme of economic genocide that was conceptualised and implemented by the Bharrat Jagdeo government.
The resources of this country belong to every Guyanese and all must benefit equally and in accordance with their needs. This must be done with Affirmative Action to make sure that our nation’s poor and vulnerable are given opportunities for upliftment and empowerment. The majority of Africans cannot rely on the PPP/C. For the regime bears no goodwill to the collective save and except those who do their bidding, are prepared to compromise and degrade themselves for pittance.
Africans and all marginalised groups and individuals must hold the PPP/C accountable. For the wealth of this country belongs to all in equal measure, regardless of numerical strength, political or other affiliation or identity. The PPP/C regime has demonstrated no regard for rights, the rule of law and Guyana Constitution. They have signalled they will, by any means necessary, deny the inclusion of African Guyanese, the working class and poor. Guyanese will not continue to tolerate the intransigence of their stewardship and will resist.
It is none other than Mahatma Gandhi, an East Indian icon, who said non-cooperation with evil is a sacred duty. It is time the main elected opposition, the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC), uses its political clout and power to shape the environment of resistance, instead of creating an environment of acceptance to normalise the PPP/C atrocities. It is time every citizen, who voted for the APNU+AFC and as a consequence now stands at risk of PPP/C attacks and vindictive nasty mindedness, calls on the leadership at all levels to demonstrate that they were first worthy of that vote and remains worthy of further votes.
For clearly, the PPP is sending a message to every Guyanese, who dares to associate outside of the PPP, that they will become the target of criminal investigations, will have acquired wealth taken away, will be bullied, will have their reputation destroyed, and their livelihood placed under threat. The coalition is asleep. It is important in any country that the political opposition is seen as the alternative force, capable of keeping the government in check. Not only for fiscal and other economic responsibilities but for their social well-being, individual and collective development.
We as a people need to come together, regardless of political association, and recognise that the suffering of any group through government vindictiveness is an indictment not only on said government but every group. Guyana cannot develop under any government that grabs power and wealth away from the people with one hand whilst oppressing them with another hand. And in a plural society, such as ours, it is a recipe not only for political confrontation but ethnic confrontation, which this regime seems bent on creating. The PPP/C and all those who gleefully support the continued Black attack, the denial of revenue and equal development to the vulnerable, working class and poor must be ashamed of themselves and condemned by all right-thinking Guyanese.