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Permit me a few lines in your publication to express a few notable concerns. I note that Georgetown continues to grow and expand. It is the epicentre of the new oil and gas economy and the cultural melting pot of our country. The infrastructure landscape continues to change and adapt to growing demands.
Stores along Regent Street have seen an influx of migrants from Venezuela, Haiti and Brazil. Communities are dotted with Chinese supermarkets. Restaurants have expanded their menus to offer a wider range of food choices and food caravans abound in many streets and avenues. I remain concerned that the lack of collaboration and the tense relationship between the Government and the Municipality results in unnecessary stresses on our infrastructure and social fabric.
This development however has seen little shift in the living standards of people. We recently celebrated International Nurse’s Day and our nurses who have been steadfast during the COVID pandemic and continue to work in the new normal, are paid meagre wages resulting in many taking advantage of the opportunity to leave for a better way of life.
Public Servants who process applications for oil and gas workers, who require registration of business and work permits to engage in local business, are poorly paid and overworked and have limited opportunities for promotion. They are anxious now given the recent statements that NIS, a social safety net is now bankrupt. Young public servants I fear will seek opportunities in greener pastures in pursuit of a higher standard of living and a better way of life.
There is much talk of the fastest growing global economy, yet the City Council received a paltry 30 million dollars in subvention in 2021. It has become almost predictable for some sections of the population to accuse the Council of sabotaging the Central Government without even doing a basic mathematical analysis. Under the previous administration (APNUAFC), the Council benefitted from some 300 million dollars in subvention in addition to inter-agency collaborations.
This cooperation saw a notable difference in the aesthetics of the City. It is interesting that some sections expect this new petrostate to have its Capital City function on 30 million Guyana dollars.
What is even more concerning is the fact that while all of this is happening and Rome burns, there are echoes of a “One Guyana” mantra – this must be interrogated. What does “One Guyana” mean and who is a part of this one Guyana.
Dear Editor, I highlighted two significant sections of society who make up several thousands of people and I wish to highlight another group, our indigenous peoples.
Sadly, our indigenous people have no place in Guyana’s oil and gas development, as they are not represented in this sector – in the private sector or government agencies.
I am directed to other jurisdictions where direct initiatives are implemented by Government to ensure active participation by disadvantaged and underrepresented groups.
Over the past few months, I continue to read about massive collaborations, extensive capital investment projects, and the Government’s support of initiatives to boost the private sector but sadly and no initiatives specifically for the poor, the disadvantaged or the underrepresented.
It would seem that our population could easily predict who will be the next named local investor or partner in a quick shuffle of the pack of cards when the next announcement is made, same people and dare I say, same ethnic group. We then must ask what is this One Guyana? Is it a homogenous group who consider themselves one and act in their own interest or is that we hope to say the same thing repeatedly and people embrace it as factual?
History warns us of what happens when we attempt to say a big lie long enough to convince the masses that it is the truth.
I urge the Government, Private Sector and Civil Society to be cognisant of the image of One Guyana lest we become a tyranny of the majority…history will not be kind to us.
I once again welcome a collaborative approach where we can all sit at the table and make sound decisions that benefit “All Guyana” to truly achieve “One Guyana”
Representation matters…let us not forget that we live in a plural society.
Pt Ubraj Narine, JP
Mayor of the City of Georgetown