Avoiding the pitfalls of our neighbour

Dear Editor,
Today our discussion centres around the pitfalls made by our oil-rich Caribbean neighbour Trinidad and the way they utilised their sovereign wealth. I would pause here to offer an apology to Dr Rowley if unintentionally I might have stepped on his toes, because these days once you mention the word Trinidad, you are automatically a UNC member and an enemy of the honourable doctor. I am neither of the two, so I stand in the clear when I speak.
Now, we are all in remembrance of the oil boom years of the republic and the prosperity with which it brings, Trinidad was in the height of prosperity as black gold flowed bountifully. Trinidad had its own refinery, refining its own oil, there were other spinoffs such as having a vehicle assembly plant and its own national airline. Not forgetting the massive infrastructural works in roads and superhighways; this country was at the top of its game; Trinidad’s remarkable achievements spanned far and wide.
Now, the economic planners of the day decided to be a little more generous to the people at the bottom of the economic ladder by instituting that grand welfare programme, Cost of Living Allowance (COLA). It afforded the masses a monetary sum to offset daily expenses. In layman’s terms, with COLA a man could have taken care of his immediate family and his “jabal/s” at the side quite comfortably and believe me, this is exactly what took place.
Many left their jobs and subsisted solely on COLA. Some of the very same people who strongly agitated that they were poor and wanted part of the sovereign wealth, suddenly became owners of two or more vehicles, living in a property that was not theirs. They were living life to its fullest. So when things took a downturn in that country, you could have heard many grumbling in that sing-song “Trini Accent” life is hard in Trinidad. We want to avoid those pitfalls.
So, like Trinidad, Guyana is on the upswing, we are in the top ten oil-producing states in the world with matching income from oil revenue. Some of the so-called economic geniuses of the day are of the opinion that Guyana should become a “welfare organisation” and just share out oil monies far and wide. I think it is the WPA doctor who advocated that each person living in Guyana should be given US$5000. A pretty nice-sounding proposal but very backward when it comes to real economic terms. You give a man a fish and he will always be back for another fish, rather, teach him the independent economic philosophy of catching a fish for himself, because if we stick to that giving out thinking, we are well into making the same mistakes as other countries did.
We have a far way to go, I am talking about fixing our infrastructure, housing, water, and healthcare as well as opening up our country for investment and the provision of jobs. It is also putting away for a rainy day, these are the pillars on which true development is pivoted. It is the long-term benefits and futuristic outlook of any country, rightly called people living comfortably in a rich country and not the other way round. The economic planners in the PPP/C are taking care of these fundamental principles and for this we are proud.

Neil Adams