The reality of what passes for wages and salaries

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The World Cup has come to Guyana again. Sadly, the occasion has exposed how poor Guyana really is. It is not that Guyanese do not like cricket. Rather it is a case of not being able to afford the ticket. The cost of a ticket is about US$150.
The match that West Indies played on Sunday saw empty stands. Indeed, there were people who attended but for the greater part most had to be content with following the game on television. These empty stands drew criticisms from the International Cricket Council. There were also scathing criticisms in the Hindustani Times. It would come as no surprise if cricket is removed from the Guyana schedule.  This is an indication of what the money from oil is being spent on.
Surely, it is not being spent on wages and salaries. Right now, teachers are on strike for improved wages and working conditions. At the same time policemen are resigning from the force even as there is no rush by recruits.
I remember the days when the Bourda ground was full to overflowing for Test matches. People left their homes from the far reaches of coastal Guyana to get a chance to enter the ground. Families packed picnic baskets. Money was no problem. This was not only the case with Test cricket. Regional matches attracted near capacity crowds. And this was so at every venue where the matches were played.
Today, the situation is a far cry from those heady days. Surprisingly, at the same venue, Providence Stadium, there have been crowds for other events, not least, when the government brings foreign artistes. Of course the price is so much lower. Guyana has not fixed the ticket prices for the World Cup. It is common across the region.
A glimpse at the Barbados ground, Kensington Oval, revealed a lively crowd although West Indies were not involved. True, many were people from overseas who have travelled with the teams. But the Barbadians turned out.
Some say that the government has money to subsidise the cost of tickets. But such a move would not provide any of the locals with money. It is said that for every contract awarded there are people who make money.
It is said that some people demand a cut before the contract is awarded. And the government knows this. Perhaps, this may explain why contracts are inflated.  After the cut is removed from the top there must be enough money to complete the work.
Recently, there were reports that President Irfaan Ali travelled to Region One to seven communities that rejected the PPP candidates for the village elections. The reports stated that he shared money to entice the people. The money would have been in the millions of dollars. The President has deep pockets.
Minister Juan Edghill actually told a gathering that money is no problem for the government. There are people who would say that the World Cup is not important but it is. It brings in some money for the country although on this occasion the visitors have not yet come in their numbers.
While people are quibbling over the mendacity of the government when it comes to paying a proper wage to public servants, they have taken their eyes from the United States immigration authorities. In recent times a number of Guyanese arriving in the United States have been detained and questioned. Some of these people are not known to deal with drugs. In fact, the only common thing they share is their affiliation to the People’s Progressive Party. Even policemen who serve the PPP government instead of the country have been detained and questioned.
There was a time when Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo was a frequent flyer. He was President then. Some time back he actually told me during my days as an active reporter, that he becomes easily bored. To alleviate the boredom, he simply travelled overseas. It must be that he is no longer bored with being in Guyana. He has not been going close to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport. There must be a reason. It may be that he is afraid of being detained and questioned. But then again he may simply be scared to fly.
But while Jagdeo is refusing to travel, United States Congressmen are coming to Guyana. The most recent, Congressman Jonathan Jackson, met with the residents of Mocha. These people poured out their hearts to the Congressman. Kwame McKoy who was in the auditorium rose to defend his government against the various accusations. In what could only be described as a takedown, the Congressman told him that he had come to hear the people and not the politician.
The government was not to be outdone. It took the Congressman to Albouystown. The difference was that the people did not sing the praises of the government, but of President Irfaan Ali. One would not be faulted to believe that the whole episode was contrived. Be that as it may, Guyanese should not rely too much on foreign people to solve their problems.
A group from the Black Caucus came to Guyana toward the end of last year. The members listened to what was told to them. They wanted documentary evidence and they got the evidence. The group left Guyana with the promise to study the reports. There has been no further word from the group.
The Political opposition left these shores for a meeting with the United States Congressional Committee. Initially, former Minister David Patterson was prevented from leaving. He has since gone to court over this breach of his rights. There has been no word from the committee. Perhaps the only result is the detention and questioning of people associated with the PPP government.



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