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By GHK Lall
The President gets curiouser and curiouser by the moment. He clearly is in league by himself where use of the English Language is concerned. All Guyanese are benefiting from oil. Just check out the hospitals and roads; all Guyanese can access them. Ye Gods! Can this be happening? I wonder what the Arabs think of that presidential beauty. That’s like telling them who are blocked from the oil wealth that they still have all that lovely sand and space. I still am coming to grips with this.
Leaving out oil revenues, the PPP Government has made it a duty to punish those who came out on the short side of the 2020 elections, through a number of different mechanisms primarily intended to teach the losers a lesson, and show who is the boss. When the cascade of oil revenues, and the benefits they make possible, are considered, the generosity of the government and its leaders have been noticeably tilted in one direction, viz., towards its own base. Given such an emphasis, it follows that the other major ethnic group in Guyana has experienced what it is to be left out, and to be content with whatever occasional scraps are thrown the way of its members. Bottom line: some are benefiting more than some, and by a considerable margin. All fingers aren’t equal.
This is where Guyana is today, and no matter how much the PPP Government propaganda machinery swings into top gear, the reality is that oil revenues are not being felt by all Guyanese. So, when President Ali sits for an interview with Al-Jazeera and pontificates for an Arab audience that all Guyana is benefiting from the nation’s splashes of oil revenues, he is engaging in what he has become more practiced in daily. That is, to detach himself from reality on the ground, and float about in some fantasy land of his own making, complete with itshammock and whatever else is required to maintain his present blissful, unconscious state. And this is Guyana’s head-of-state!
During the Al-Jazeera interview, the President unfurled his lengthy Christmas list of goodies, which is supposed to suffice as his interpretation of oil revenue benefiting all Guyanese. I regret having to say this, but clearly the President and I have radically different ideas of how the English Language operates. While the national leaderhas an active imagination and engages in wishful thinking, this‘all’ Guyana story is not as he says.
The President’s list covered a broad amount of territory into which money has been poured by the PPP Government. There can be no disputing that money has been given to different areas of need, such as help for the children in school, provisions for scholarships, and training for encoders, the latter two areas numbering in the tens of thousands. There can be no question that children are children, and that the aid extended reach most, if not all of them. Let that be said, while what the President took a huge plunge and called world class healthcare reaches all Guyanese that pass through the doors of those facilities. Before proceeding the point needs to be made that what the President relished labeling as world class healthcare takes a lot of medicine to swallow, including some healthy doses of approved narcotics. The simple fact is that all Guyana knows this, and the President also knows that our healthcare system, inclusive of what is available for skills, equipment, and standards leave much to be desired. In fact, even our top private healthcare institutions have a long way to go before they can even approach what may be termed as world class status. World class, they are not, be they public or private! But in fairness, the healthcare system is open to the general public, which is why the President included it in his list of areas that benefit all Guyanese.
This is the same case the President made regarding roads. They are there in the billions allocated, spent and made use of (swindled also), and the resulting roadways are not reserved, but open to all. Having said all this, I think the President has become so fascinated with his own cleverness that he is now seemingly of the mind that cleverness and slickness are what should rule the day. I say this because the President knows about roads built in areas of his supporters, while bypassing or ignoring the needs of adjacent communities. By the same token, thePresident should knowof other costly infrastructure works (bridges, wells, etc.) that benefited his people alone, while leaving others wringing their hands in dismay.
More pointedly, the President surprisingly left out of his Al-Jazeera presentation the billions that were handed out as cash grants, and only one of which actually was national in scope and reach. The ailing sugar sector alone, in various places, benefited and benefited, like no other sector in this country. Also, like the sugar sector, farmers and fisherfolk, primarily of the President’s political tribe and camp, came in for cash packages customized specifically for their benefit. Meanwhile, the other sectors in Guyana that are/were crying for relief had to wait, and then dismissed with what pleasedthe whims of leader and government. It would have been enlightening for the President’s largely Arab and Middle Eastern audience to appreciate that what he holds out as all Guyanese is not really all in the first place in the fullest meaning of the word. Arabs pioneered mathematics. Worse, whenever benefits did reach some Guyanese, it paled in comparison to what their peers received.
To repeat, roads and healthcare, all other things equal, benefit all. How can they not? Shouldn’t they? However, when cash and other considerations (locations, priorities, recipients) take centerstage, the undeniable reality is of inequity in distribution, and unfairness in result. Cumulatively, the best I can say about the President’s relationship with facts and accuracy is that it is ludicrous, fictitious, and contemptuous.I must confess that the arithmetic of politics is unique.