Helping hand…

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…forgotten?

There’s been some extended letters from ex-PM Sam Hinds and ex-Local Government Minister Norman Whittaker defending the charge by David Hinds that the PPP didn’t do squat for Linden while pouring out largesse for the sugar industry – which is a trope for “East Indians” – but which was explicitly charged. And in this exchange…lies the tragedy of Guyana. A tragedy that has been playing out for sixty years – since the split of the PPP – and which is obviously still unfolding.

The tragedy is intractable not because of some unique twist in the psyches of the several groups competing for power in Guyana, because it’s present in all severely divided societies. Cyprus? The Turkish groups always accuse the Greeks of spending more on Greeks. Malaysia? The Chinese and Indians always complain the Malays are getting most of the gravy train.

Sometimes, like in Trinidad, there might be so much revenue pouring in (there due to oil since the seventies) that everyone gets a piece of the pie. Not EQUAL pieces mind you, but enough to Dampen the fires of disquiet. But now that oil is running out and budgets have to be cut, just wait and see the squeals as to who’re taking the heaviest burden. And it won’t be funny…tragedies never are.

The problem is, because the votes to get governments into office cleave along ethnic lines, and they have to reward their supporters…even if a government doesn’t actually do so, the assumption is, it has! Take the case in point cited by David Hinds. Under the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement from the 1950s and then its successor Lome΄ Protocol, Guyana’s sugar earned a preferential price. However beginning in 1975 when there was a huge spike in sugar prices, a levy was imposed on sugar which drained off all profits. Amounting to at least ONE BILLION US DOLLARS by the time the PPP finally ended the levy in 1999. Which moneys were first frittered away on the failed Hydro by Burnham…then used in the Consolidated Funds to subsidies places like Linden and projects like “cooperative industries” for party card holders.

If those moneys had been reinvested in sugar, the 60-year-old Skeldon could’ve been long replaced – and Hinds wouldn’t have had to bemoan the “largest investment in Guyana” being for the “benefit of Indians.

But are we ever going to hear a “balanced” account? Not in this life. And this is why your Eyewitness was excited that in its manifesto APNU/AFC had promised an “Ethnic Impact Statement” on all governmental initiatives to pre-empt ethnic bitching.

But this has died stillborn…And the fight goes on!

…for agri?

When will this government wake up and accept that folks need more than words when they’re faced with an economy that’s collapsing like a house of cards on their ears. PM Nagamootoo was delivering remarks to the farming community of Mahaicony on “World Food Day”. Now Mahaicony farms rice- which is in a real pickle after Nagamootoo’s government allowed the Venezuelan market for half our exports to be lost – without even putting up a struggle to save it.

And guess what? Nagamootoo was insensitive enough to tell the rice farmers that Venezuelans are starving and need food – even though they’re awash in oil!! Now didn’t it cross Nagamootoo’s mind that this starvation would’ve given the Venezuelan government a great incentive to have us continue shipping rice? Nagamootoo didn’t mention the Mexican rice market he claimed he “secured” a year ago!

And to rub salt into the wound, he reminded the rice farmers that sugar had to diversify. He didn’t mention they were going into rice – to compete with rice farmers!

…on waning libidos?

Placing Trinidad even on the worldwide Yahoo newsfeed was – for the second year in a row – they’re # 1 IN THE WORLD on porn searches!!

And here your Eyewitness thought all that fleshy exposure during Carnival would’ve satiated them!!