OP-ED|Removal of oil protections

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By GHK Lall

I always had the thought that there was a limit, some place of stopping, with certain things.  Even good things-food and drink, company and cheering-have a way of coming to an end, sometimes not so sweetly.  But I am forced to confess that I was wrong, and in way that leaves me breathless, worried; the latter is a most difficult thing to achieve.  There is now this feeling for a way forward, which is prompted by the latest assaults on the intelligence and dignity of Guyanese, compliments of a runaway PPP Government, completely committed to one corruption atrocity after another.  The PPP Government, and the range of interests that speaks to the corrupting are endless, so committed are these fine Guyanese to a certain mode of operations, a settled way of life.  In a word, it is of continuing, pervasive corruptions that twist their souls into the unrecognizable and barbaric.

I am convinced that the Government’s strategists and analysts, with the insistent pressures of leaders on them, pore over, and painstakingly study the Laws of Guyana, and the related rules and regulations that spring from those laws and come up with pleasing recommendations for their masters.  Sometimes, their masters do the heavy studying and reviewing themselves to pounce upon those places and provisions that hold the prospects of being hindrances to their corrupting national visions and their deep-seated personal ambitions.  By now, Guyanese should discern who is the driver in this sitting government, and who are the passengers along for the ride.  There are the regulars from many days traveled together, and there are the younger ones, who have to be shown how the thievery program works, and the need to get quickly with it.  The man in charge has proved to be a fast learner of things that belong in dark back alleys and should stay there.

But this is governance, in the now traditional PPP style.  The big boss-man and biggest dog in the local political pound controls the show.  And what a show he came up with in the last few days.  First, it was the Public Accountability and Oversight Committee, which became a prime candidate for the legislative chopping block.  Most likely, the honorable man of Guyana’s law chambers will be assigned to do the honors, as public executioner.  It is a job he has come to relish, because he himself has his eyes on bigger prizes, and now is not the time to quibble about protections and sentinels and safeguards and all that crap.  Sorry, I forgot myself in this season of truth and righteousness.

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For when I first heard of the parliamentary preparations to gut Guyana some more, with the planned removal of that sensible and safeguarding oversight committee (they call them checks and balances), my reaction was that this could not be.  Just could not be.  And when the reasons for its destruction were presented by the Honorable Vice President of Guyana, what I did was to dismiss with utter contempt the stated rationales-cumbersome nature, likely laborious inefficiencies, and not being able to get anything done-they deserve, as the most frivolous and misleading of positions.

It is vexatious that Guyana’s Vice President, its self-anointed oil authority (the man is an OPEC all by himself) could not find any reason to keep the needed protections of that oversight provision.  In view of what has happened with this nation’s oil under his watch (and those before him), this country can ill-afford less watchdogs, fewer sentinels.  The 22-member group is the 4-eyes principle taken seriously and expanded to furnish the much-needed protections needed here with this oil, and the confidence that they give.  As this PPP Government should be well-aware, the corruptions with this oil of ours began as far back as 1999, and have extended through every government since, without exception.  To be clear, the corruptions flourishing with this oil is happening more today than it ever did before.  Hence, I don’t give a damn (regrets, again) about cumbersome and all the rest, especially coming from individuals as troubling and troubled as these leaders in the PPP Government.

When I reflect upon that first oversight dilution development, I came to rough places.  It is that PPP leaders sleep and dream of how to deceive and cheat the hopeful peoples of this society.  And when they come to life daily, they step forward to introduce their newest handiwork, which fosters more corruptions, because it takes away the sight and teeth in the little laws that we have over oil and its cash.

Without pausing to admire their oversight destruction handiwork it was full speed ahead within a matter of hours with another corruption masterpiece.  The messenger was the Vice President again.  Like I said, the man doesn’t sleep at night, engage in social conversations and exchanges (other than when mandatory), so obsessed is he with taking this oil down dark and dangerous paths that seduce and lead to still more falling and costly failures with our riches.  He conjures ways to unravel what is there to protect all of us from the allures of oil that have laid low many poor societies.  His newest gig is to discard the Macroeconomic Committee, another feature of our laws.  He says this helps eliminate complexity. I scorn that for being self-serving, and removing anti-corruption boulders blocking his path, while replacing such with what jumps to do his bidding, damages Guyana.

When we go full tilt with this reckless haste to dismantle anti -corruption provisions, we smash windows and cut through grills that give us some comfort and trust.  What is left are the many corruptions sure to come, and which I lay on the head of the PPP Government in general, and the head, shoulders, and feet of the erstwhile Vice President, specifically.  Those Guyanese waiting for something from this oil had better find something else to watch, and place their hopes in, to give them peace.

To all my fellow Guyanese, happy holidays, and safe and sensible celebrating.



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