I beg an opportunity to reply to Dr David Hinds. In his reply to me he seems to have missed altogether, misread and/or misunderstood/misinterpreted some of what I wrote.
Firstly, he claims incorrectly that “I excluded the part that the PPP (really the PPP/C) sought to remove the electricity subsidy from Linden”. I addressed that issue straightforwardly and frankly in my paragraph beginning, “Concerning the attempt to initiate the reform of the electricity supply in Linden.”
Recall that after the second day of the 2012 budget review between the then Government and the Opposition, I read a statement in Parliament on the reform of electricity supply in Linden which was received no differently from the statement by Dr Ashni Singh the previous day which increased old age pension even more than we had budgeted.
There was no rejection of that agreement for an increased old age pension but the furore fomented in Linden put an end to the “agreement” for electricity reform in Linden. It unfortunately also put an end to any further budget reviews. The following day, we (the government and opposition) were to talk about our various preferences for development programmes for as much as about one third of the VAT revenue, approaching 10 per cent of all revenues. This would have been a big step forward towards some “ shared governance “from the much smaller arrangement of earlier years between then President Jagdeo and Mr Hoyte, the then leader of the opposition.
Concerning a judgment on the disastrous disturbances which followed in Linden, I would offer the report of the Commission of Inquiry which the Opposition called for, and which put a share of the burden on the local MP and other activists. There may be a silent acknowledgement of the commission report in that those activists, former MP Kissoon and Regional Chairman Solomon have not been continued in their earlier political roles.
With respect to the lack of progress on the agreement that ended the disturbances, the PPP/C kept to the most important and overriding one, that there would be no consideration of any change in the provision of electricity until after various socio-economic committees had been agreed upon and had reported. A large number of meetings were held to agree on membership of these committees and on the Linden TV station but little progress was made. The difficulties encountered in establishing the Linden TV station since the Coalition assumed office should demonstrate that it was simplistic to think that all will go well were there, no PPP, nor PPP/C, as the stumbling block in the way.
On the comparison of Linden and other mainly African Guyanese areas (say South Georgetown) in 1992 and 2015, I cannot believe that anyone who knew those areas and the lives of our people in 1992, could say that they were worse off in 2015: not with the great improvements in the supplies of electricity and water, primary and secondary schools, other public buildings and private dwellings, vehicle ownership, etc. In Linden there probably were no more than 100 private vehicles in 1992 but more than two thousand in 2015. The mainly African public service saw steady wage increases exceeding the inflation rate and sharing in the great increase in vehicle ownership. A comparison with the discussions and awards of the Coalition Government since it took office in 2015, particularly with what they were saying during the campaign, would show that the PPP/C wasn’t that bad after all.
As President Jagdeo has been saying, there has been and continues to be fundamental differences between us of the PPP/C and the PNC/PNCR/APNU, beyond the racial difference. In my view, we of the PPP and PPP/C are moved by rural sentiments and think in terms of and work in practical ways for improvement of the largest number of Guyanese (whatever race, religion or region) from the position they are at. The PNC/PNCR/APNU is moved not just by urban sentiments, but by urban elitist sentiments as indicated by a number of things which they have been doing since in office.
We the PPP/C believe that during our 23 years in office our people and country moved a far way towards becoming one people, one developing country with a common destiny. There are now more African Guyanese owned businesses than ever before (admittedly smaller to middling because of the more recent start-up). Also many large companies like the BK Group are becoming really Guyanese companies. In my first response to Dr David Hinds, I called on my fellow members, supporters and friends of the PPP/C not to be daunted by the wall of suspicion built by decades of propaganda against us, but to reach out to fellow Guyanese who are African Guyanese. Now I call on my fellow African Guyanese to think again of the PPP/C, engage our leaders, members and supporters and you may find a Guyanese of your liking.
Samuel A A Hinds
and former Prime