Starting over…

…in rice

Irfaan Ali’s one of the rising profiles in the PPP and showed his creativity by introducing a motion calling on the Government to re-open negotiations with Venezuela on the Petro-Caribe “oil for rice” deal. Some might say, why must there even be a motion? As the lawyers say, “res ipsa loquitur” – the thing speaks for itself.
When we were exporting rice and paddy to Venezuela – 200,000+ tonnes annually – we were smiling all the way to the bank. Coming and going. Here it was, we were getting oil on a long-term repayment plan – once the price was over US$50/barrel. But the sweetness didn’t stop there. We then shipped rice to them at US$780/ tonne – almost twice the world market price for the oil. Our farmers also grinned all the way to the bank.
But the good times didn’t stop there. We could then pay our farmers in Guyana dollars – which we can print at will – and not worry whether our money is plunging or anything. Can’t beat that, can you? Well, the APNU/AFC must’ve thought they could. Why else would they not even make an attempt to save that market for 30% of our exports of rice? Surely, it wasn’t because most rice farmers didn’t vote for them, was it? Naaaah!
They probably thought they could bag replacement markets with a snap of their fingers. Not long after, Moses Nagamootoo, in charge of Information, jetted out to Mexico to attend the “Open Government Partnership (OGP) Global Summit”. Pushing “transparency”, “no State control of Government media” and other such things Nagamootoo’s expert on. When he returned and announced he’d clinched mega contracts for our paddy in Mexico, farmers were ecstatic. It was like Nagamootoo put in his thumb and pulled out a plum!!
Well, farmers are presumably still waiting for the deal to be sealed – after all, since then, rice prices have continued to wallow in the doldrums. Those in the know (meaning those who know the “Bluff Master”) weren’t holding their breath. So Ali’s intervention comes like a breath of fresh air. Surely we can match Suriname’s prices – and then our shipping costs ought to be less, nuh?
The lone sticking point might be the Venezuelans raising the temperature on their border controversy in the wake of EXXON’s discovery of oil off Essequibo. But the old hands in the PNC would know Maduro has to play to the gallery so as not to be outflanked on that issue by his Opposition.
What’d we have to lose? If the Americans can resume trading with Cuba, without compensation for nationalisations why can’t we ship rice and save our farmers?

…in security
It’s clear the Government doesn’t realise how much damage has been inflicted by its insistence on fighting crime through statistics. They can massage the numbers all they want, but the experience of citizens up to now has been “there’s lies, damned lies…and statistics!”
The bottom line is, it’s true there was crime in the country. But it’s also true that one of the major reasons the coalition pipped the PPP at the elections was they convinced folks they’d do better than what prevailed. Ramjattan went on and on and on about what a maven he was on security. So for him, who went out of his way to hound Rohee about “crime rates” – even moving a “no confidence motion” against him – to now harp and carp about “statistics” to excuse his ineptitude is just too much.
If Prezzie won’t listen to the PPP, can’t he at least take notice of his squaddie Col Gomes’ plea to dump Ramjattan?

…with vendors
With 500 vendors to shoehorn into 136 “spots” at the new, temporary location, why don’t the mandarins at City Hall take a stroll through Stabroek Market?
There’re at least 50 empty stalls that can be rented to those who had to vacate their pavement spots.