The Government continues to bask as it slowly completes a few projects which were envisaged and commenced by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration just prior to the May 2015 General Elections. Despite serious accusations of not delivering the initial intended expansion of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), the Government takes credit for the new structure now in place as it has done with the Indian Arrival Monument.
Nothing is wrong with this or any Government continuing developmental projects and policies started by its predecessor. Since benefits are intended for the people, it becomes difficult for arguments to be made against continuity. While that is what the people would expect, what makes the current situation in Guyana a bit different?
First, the context must be taken into consideration. During the PPP/C’s minority Government of 2011-2015, many transformative projects were already on the table with some at different stages of implementation. These included the Amaila Falls Hydro, the said modernisation of the CJIA, expansion of the East Bank and East Coast thoroughfares, the Specialty Hospital and plans to materialise a new Demerara Harbour Bridge, and the West Coast Demerara and Sheriff Street road extensions.
These visionary projects, as the Berbice Bridge, the National Stadium and the Marriott Hotel, were not only designed to further advance the country’s then ongoing unprecedented development, but to better position it to meet new demands faced by every developing nation especially one where oil will play a major part in its future economy.
Having witnessed Guyana’s unprecedented transformation as it moved from a highly-indebted poor country to a developing one within the 23-year tenure of the PPP/C Administration, Guyanese were very expectant of further advancement as they saw their standards rapidly improve. That expectation was rooted in the fact that their lives were positively impacted during the PPP/C’s tenure with many only familiar with modernity.
All would have wanted a state-of-the-art airport with protection from the elements of the weather. All would have wanted reliable, cheaper and cleaner electricity which the Amaila Hydro would have provided and which would have led to a reduction in manufacturing costs and by extension, cheaper local products. All would have wanted the services of a modern hospital with treatment in specialised areas.
The only set of people who appeared not wanting these positively impacting projects is the current Government when in Opposition. Then, Guyanese were flabbergasted to know that 33 people would have then not wanted their motherland to further progress. The answer as to why can only be found within the confines of selfish and vindictive politics to the detriment of Guyanese, including their own supporters.
The reality is, that set of Guyanese lawmakers squashed those transformation projects of the PPP/C Administration. One may objectively not deny some of their concerns as they claim, but despite being afforded all the information regarding feasibility studies, recouping revenue and benefits to the nation, even interaction with major players as in the case of the Amaila Hydro, they refused to see the value in these undertakings.
An astonished nation was at pains of trying to understand as to how the Amaila Hydro and the Specialty Hospital were scuttled by the said 33, who also severely criticised the CJIA and Marriott projects. Many attempted to unearth some semblance of rationality for those decisions, but were unsuccessful. Again, the answer lies in politics rather than in objectivity, rationality and concern for Guyanese welfare.
Politically, the power of the combined one-seat majority of A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) while in Opposition was ruthlessly wielded to demonstrate the belief of who control the seat of power. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just about whom, but about the assumed power itself, and the brandishing of it with scant regard if it compromised the future.
But what has changed since? Why would the said set of 33 people, officially in the seat of power, now boast of some of these projects which they had previously blanked? How suddenly these projects make sense to them? Politics seems most plausible as, in their minds, support for such transformative projects while in Opposition would have made the then PPP/C Government look good.
Such thinking can only be seen as a transgression into the realms of unbridled hypocrisy. On the flip side, why not execute sound projects so as to look good while now in Government? This obviously is in the context of them once killing and burying those projects and now unashamedly taking credit.
One positive is that Guyanese can eventually benefit from what was originally intended if these projects are executed as designed. Is there any iota of hope for the Amaila Hydro under the said 33? Given their recent seemingly unexpected flip-flopping, it may be ill-advised to carve an absolute no in stone.
After all, who would have expected the AFC to have expressed “deep concern” for sugar workers after vehemently defending its coalition Government’s decision to close a number of estates and with a relative of one of its high-ranking officials reportedly tasked with finding buyers for the factories? It appears another confirmation of the boundless potential for hypocrisy.