Despite passing the largest budget ever, the government returned to the National Assembly for even more money. The latest approach to the consolidated fund was for $47.3 billion. That brought to total budget for the year to some $645 billion.
That is an awful lot of money. It is three times the size of the budget presented a few years ago. And back then the dollar still had some value.
If people cast their minds back, in an effort to save money the government scrapped the cent. In fact, it scrapped all coins in existence at the time.
Then it moved to make the smaller bills into coins. This sparked a joke around the Caribbean. People began to say that Guyana has dollars and no sense. I had no answer to that. To this day we have dollars and no sense.
So a whopping $645 billion has been spent this year. Yet public servants and pensioners have received nothing. They still suffer when they face the markets. Many still send their children to school hungry.
But even though the ranks of the poor are expanding, more and more cars are emerging on the streets. Each day at least 20 cars emerge from the show windows. It would be interesting to see who own these cars.
There are constructions to the point that the country is talking about a construction boom. It is a mystery to appreciate where the money is coming from to facilitate the boom. And again, it would be interesting to see who are the people pushing this boom.
The government is planning to build so many roads that one must wonder whether there may not be more roads than people. According to his speech in the National Assembly on Monday, Works Minister Juan Edghill spoke about building and repairing 1,000 roads.
In the true sense of a road, this may not be the case. It may be a case of clearing some dams leading to the backlands. Here there could be as many as five constructions in one year, on the same project.
From what is happening around the place, roads are repaired and soon after they fall into disrepair. Thomas Road in Thomas Lands is a classic example. Just a few short months ago that road was shut down to facilitate some urgent repairs to the surface.
The job lasted a month.
Today, that road is deteriorating again. Perhaps the Works Minister simply means that the government would be spending money to facilitate 1,000 roads. He never spoke of new roads. He also spoke about helping 900 small and medium scale contractors.
This tells a story. Social media was harsh on the government in the selection of contractors. Some of the contributors provided evidence that there were people with no experience but presenting themselves as contractors. Others claimed racial and political discrimination in the selection of the contractors.
The opposition questioned the need for a supplementary vote when the initial budget was so large. It claimed this was the second approach to the House for more money since the passage of the budget.
The prices are still high in the marketplace; the cost of construction material keeps rising as is everything under the sun.
Sand that is mined in Guyana suddenly costs a lot more. And people are still buying. A few will be happy at the returns.
It is clear when poor and struggling people get some money they celebrate. I saw the videos of the police in their barracks.
The reality will hit home when they try to spend what they received. And there is no immediate end to this situation.
The government is also demonstrating a strong dislike for the rule of law.
There should be an examination by the Public Accounts Committee. But even the sittings of this body are controlled by the government. If the issue threatens to be contentious the government members will simply stay away, thus denying the body of a quorum.
No quorum; no meeting
The courts ruled that Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo must pay Annette Ferguson money in lieu of damages for libel. The action by the Vice President is reminiscent of the old days when people danced something called Square.
A friend whispered that the Vice President was doing the jitterbug.
It is the same with the confirmation of the Chancellor and the Chief Justice. These two women have been acting for so long that Hollywood must be checking their acting experience for roles in some upcoming movies.
President Irfaan Ali, in response to questions, said that he will consider the appointments when he is ready. His dilly dallying has been challenged in court. The Attorney General, rather than hasten the case, has been seeking postponements.
On one occasion he said that he was attending the International Court of Justice although he was not known to be making a contribution.
Another dance is on show.
One issue involves overseas voting. For as long as one can remember, for a person to vote in Guyana that person had to be a resident. That person should be living in Guyana for at least nine months before the elections.
Not anymore. People can now fly into Guyana for the elections and cast their votes then return to their adopted country. Will the government use the oil money to fund the return of its supporters? That is a possibility.
The legislation has been passed; the way is now cleared for such actions.
GuySuCo continues to bleed the economy; the people who received the uniform grants are not smiling. Neither are the teachers. There is hope for the teachers and the nurses. President Ali has said that he will visit others just as he visited the police.
It’s only a matter of time.