Now that we have pulled the curtains on 2020 and gotten through the end-of-year formalities and informalities as best as we could under the pall of the COVID-19, we should all make a collective resolution to put our shoulders to the wheel of our national vehicle of progress to get it out of the morass in which it has become stuck during the last two years.
While, objectively, one new day is just like any other, subjectively, we all view a “new” year as a new beginning. As such, this presents us with the opportunity to consciously act in a manner that would engender that progress.
After all, with US$180M already in our national accounts at the NY Fed from the first year of oil production – which has only now reached the targeted 120,000 bpd production from Lisa 1 – we know we have some “grease” to apply to the wheel of progress. And maybe we can begin with this circumstance of oil revenues that have, unfortunately, become such a point of contention. There is no question that almost all Guyanese, with the possible exception of the then APNU/AFC’s line minister Raphael Trotman, accepts that the contract he signed away for the Stabroek Block was stacked against our best interests. But at this point, with the political directorate from both sides of the divide concluding that it was not prudent to demand a renegotiation of the contract, we should move on to ensure that we have a consensus as to the best way to expend the revenues from the oil, extraction of which is scheduled to rise to 750,000 bpd by 2025. Related issues, such as determining the best rate of future production or use of the associated gas, should best be left to those who can guarantee the certainty of their prognostications – which, of course, no one can.
The PPPC Government have outlined in their 2020 Manifesto their overall development plans, and they would be expected to execute those, since it was on this basis that they were given the electoral mandate to take the reins of Government. For instance, in reference to the oil revenues, they committed to using it as support for job creation, to build world-class education and healthcare systems for Guyanese, in addition to social and economic infrastructure. They also committed to introducing targeted cash transfers to Guyanese, particularly the elderly, children, the poor, and other vulnerable groups. What has been heartening is that, since they took office on Aug 2, 2020, they have launched initiatives in each of these areas without even touching the oil revenues. This shows commitment to their promise towards national development, and all Guyanese should play their part, since governments can only provide the enabling environment for “we the people” to deliver the goods.
Another area of endeavour in which we can play our part is in defeating the COVID-19 pandemic in our country. New Zealand showed that, with a combination of firm governmental controls and regulations, along with a disciplined population adhering to guidelines, the pandemic can be defeated, even without a vaccine. However, with vaccines already being rolled out in the developed nations, and in the offing within months for us, we have to guard against complacency setting in, which would increase our already indifferent observance of the COVID-19 guidelines.
In the political realm, which is our most contentious area of national life, there is, unfortunately, much unfinished business that might cause tensions to rise once again. The Guyanese public from all “sides” of the divide should therefore take a deep breath and act maturely to protect their collective interest, which lies in the fostering of a peaceful atmosphere to settle our inevitable differences in political opinions. The argument about the elections has been presented to the Courts, which has been mandated to settle such differences.
It behooves us to await the consummation of that process, and to accept the verdict, whatever it may be.