Honing in… on Budget

Your Eyewitness isn’t surprised at the intensity of the responses – from both sides of the divide – over the 2023 Budget. “Divide” is the key word in even the most placid democracies – much less in Guyana, where we’ve been lurching from one crisis to another over our divisions for over half a century. Maybe our political players wanna pip the old colonial record by breaking the “Hundred Year War” record??
In societies like ours Budgets are like throwing red meat into a tank of sharks – the flailing and ripping of flesh is something to behold!!
And why not?? If politics is about “who gets what, when and how”, then Budgets distil every aspect of that definition into its form and content. So, with the party in Government getting a head start in each aspect, and the Opposition having to counter with what THEY would’ve done if they were in power, things can get hot, hot, hot! The theory is: voters out there will be doing their “compare and contrast” routine they learnt in “primary school – and will vote for the party with the BETTER policy proposals come 2025. That, of course, is the THEORY, while we know that it ain’t the reality in good ole mudland!!
Here, we’ve been voting by the “colour of our skin”, and not the “content of our Manifestos and Budgets”, from day one!! “Day one” being from the founding of our country by the Dutch Whites, when their entire Budget was for their plantations. The workers were Black slaves, who had to eat the scraps from their tables. So those who bewail our tendency to vote race must appreciate how deep our racial experience goes!
Be that as it may, the Opposition’s main objection is there ain’t enough in the Budget going directly into the pockets of the masses. Now, even if this was merely a political ploy – it’s a GOOD political ploy. All studies show that most people always feel that they should’ve gotten more – it doesn’t matter what that is. More is always better. So, the Opposition’s playing a good card. Even if folks usually ignore policies that may work against their own interests if it’s WE party – there’s hope!!
For instance, should the Government have given a larger bump to pensioners? Now, serendipitously, pensioners are from all races – everybody gets old, no?? – so there can’t be claims of discrimination. But will Government-favourable pensioners change their votes in 2025??!! One good thing about history is that it teaches you that nothing remains the same. The Opposition, however, seems to be getting desperate after shooting itself in the foot in 2020!!
They should “bear strain”. Your Eyewitness thinks 2025 gonna surprise a lot of sceptics!!

…on freebies for votes
As your Eyewitness hinted above, the Opposition’s going all out to stress handing out “BIGGER and BETTER” freebies to court voters. The WPA had led the way with their so-called, strategically signalling, “Buxton Declaration” on annual cash transfers from the Oil Revenues. $100,000,000 – see all those zeroes??!! – to every family in Guyana!! Since there are more than 235,000 families here, that would mean doling out $23,400,000,000,000 EVERY YEAR!! Your Eyewitness can’t even say how many billions that amounts to!! Trillions??
The PPP is doling out $40,000 monthly, or $480,000 annually, to several thousand persons; at least they’re demanding that the recipients work some 10 days monthly!! Other handouts are targeted for schoolchildren etc. As such, they’re not developing a dependency mentality to encourage Guyanese to ignore the opportunities sprouting all around – but just helping them bear strain while the economy expands to absorb them as workers taking care of themselves!!
It’s a fundamental difference in world views!!

…on performance
Antigua PM Gaston Browne’s ruling ABLP squeaked by to a nail-biting victory in Wednesday’s general election. They won 9 of the 17 seats, for a third consecutive term. In 2018, they’d copped 15 of the 17.
Incumbents are always vulnerable against solid Oppositions!!