Guyanese must distinguish plans from promises

Dear Editor,
General and Regional Elections 2019 are seen by many uninformed persons as ‘the grab for control of oil money’. This is a most unfortunate conclusion, not supported by facts. The 2019 Administration will in fact face the massive challenge of rebuilding an economy devastated by APNU/AFC profligate spending and wanton waste that reduced reserves by US$350 million, increased debt by US$900 million, increased taxation in every sector, and lowered export earnings.
The hard work of rebuilding a thriving economy based on Agriculture (sugar, rice, fisheries); Mining (gold and bauxite), Forestry and Commerce has been largely undone by the Granger’s Oil inebriation. The job will be made that much more difficult by the continuous reckless claims of fabulous Oil wealth from ‘first oil’. Oil revenues are expected to inject US$300 million per annum for the first five years. The incoming administration will have to deal with expectations made by these claims of windfall riches versus the reality of the contractions of 8-30% in all the productive sectors of the economy.
The recent Oil and Gas forum exposed the vacuity of the APNU/AFC administration. The political decision to host an event for ‘youth’ and have no answers to the very real thirst for knowledge about the industry and, importantly, the jobs available to Guyanese was a misguided exercise in puffery. To boast, “Guyana has benefitted directly to the tune of over US$65 million from local content in 2018 alone,” to 500 young people who have not earned a dollar of that, or seen a positive impact on their lives demonstrates the problem caused when the rubber of propaganda hits the road of reality.
Guyana needs an administration that understands the importance of a job to a person’s psyche, their sense of wellbeing. Our people want to earn a living by honest means in any sector of the economy. Talk of a sovereign wealth fund means very little to a citizen without job prospects.
Guyanese need to listen carefully, over the coming weeks, to the utterings of those seeking support at the polls. Distinguishing between plans for developing all of Guyana and promises meant as comfort to fools has never been more important.

Yours truly,
Vickram Bharrat