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For the first time in the history of Guyana, we will draw down approximately US$1.1 Billion from oil and gas. Yet in spite of this unprecedented wealth, for many Guyanese today the joy that represents Christmas will not be theirs. In an economy where cost of living has quadrupled in the last four years, real wages, salaries and pension have eroded, unemployment remains high, and the miserly retroactive pay was taxed for two consecutive years, the average man and woman continue to catch hell.
Things are really tough for the majority in the world’s fastest growing economy. For those who are forced to go without, those who had to rely on the benevolence of overseas loved ones, and those who would have either created debt or dig deeper in their pockets to honour this Yuletide season, I urge you not to lose hope. For if we lose hope, we give in to those who would rather see us grovel than enjoy what’s rightly ours, i.e., a fair share of the nation’s patrimony.
Today the president, vice president and ministers will engage in merriment on our tax dollars. They will gorge themselves senseless. They will not only make themselves fatter by paying themselves the same eight per cent but have also ensured that whilst the ordinary workers’ were taxed, their retroactive pay and income remain tax-free. This is the depth of these men and women’s greed, cruelty and unfairness.
We need a revival in this country; a revival that will see an awakening and determination to shake the rapacious burdens off our backs. This season as we celebrate Christmas let it not only be solely on merriment without fully grasping why we should be merry and how it is incumbent on us to give true meaning to what this day means and what it must symbolise in our everyday life.
The joy of Christ’s birth is encapsulated in the principle that God sent his only begotten Son on earth to save people from their dastardly ways. And in so doing, certain parameters were clearly established. These include goodwill to all mankind, equal rights and justice, being our brothers and sisters’ keepers for what is good, just and fair.
President Ali in his Christmas message correctly reminds us of the principle of brotherhood and sisterhood in Christmas. However, this is the very man who presides over an economy with unprecedented wealth and continues to shut off many. This is the very man who has been the source of much division and disregard for the Constitution and Laws of Guyana and the rights of Guyana’s children. This is the very man who refuses to comply with the mandated constitutional provision of inclusionary democracy, respect citizens elected representatives, and uphold the tenets of good governance.
This is the very man that brotherhood and sisterhood mean only one thing, i.e., how he and his cohorts can gorge more on the nation’s wealth as the masses go hungry, suffer from malnutrition, and so many other afflictions. This is the very man that has no desire to reduce the wealth gap, to create the enabling environment for the 48 per cent poor to be elevated from the poverty line. The same man who says one thing and does another, the same man who thinks Guyanese are fools and will not see through his hypocrisy.
On this day of Christ’s birth, I not only wish you the best for the season but also urge the reawakening of the value and meaning that realised the birth of Christ. 2023 must not find a complacent people or a people feeling it is acceptable to grovel for what is rightly ours. Today must be the birth of a new beginning!