No less an authority than the World Bank laments that despite our wealth, Guyana is still among the poorer relations in the South American family of nations (Stabroek Business, November 27). I reflect on why this is so, how this could be, given all that we have.
Every Guyanese, inclusive of the 80% tertiary educated and the 55% resident abroad (what am I doing here?) know that government after government, be it PNC or PPP, plundered and devastated the national treasury. The record is long and familiar, I spare myself and fellows the tiring repetition of who did what, when, and how much. They are all one big bunch of the worst scoundrels around. Anywhere. But listen to either group, any of their people, and there is one of two responses: is nah wee. Or: is dem, wha bout dem?
Now, I have a question of my own: if it is not these paragons of principle and virtue, then who? The first thing I wish to say is ‘don’t look at me.’ I have no new assets, no new lady friend(s) requiring expensive upkeep, no new relationships or arrangements to serve as middlemen or front men or conmen. So, if not me, then who?
No public officer of note has been tried and jailed, with assets confiscated. Exonerated or innocent. No political officer has been found guilty and jailed; in fact, some have been appointed lawmakers, even when there were/are criminal charges hanging over their heads. When its own people are apprehended, the PNC has shouted ‘witch-hunt.’ In its turn, when the PPP stalwarts are touched by the long arm of the law (itself a little greasy), there are screams of more witchcraft and injustice and set-up. As I muse over this witchery prevalence, I am compelled, and also frightened to say that this is a real jumbie country, given all these witches and wizards and sorcerers in powerful political places.
But whether this is so or not, and whether peeple duh ather peeple sumthin or not, as I see things, somebody had to be guilty of doing some real bad things with the money we get, or that we could have gotten. I say this because, when all is reviewed and analyzed, we are still poor, among the poorest. Now I go down a different road: the foreigners rob us. My favourite people, the Americans keep us down, with the Europeans lending subtle muscle. In case anybody think I am going to overlook the Chinese and Indians (the subcontinent ones), I denounce the attempt at insult.
Okay, they all took advantage of us, since all our people who can read and rite and reckon (tertiary) gone away. So, we had and still have a pack of the literacy and numeracy challenged negotiating for us. My counter would be that even with the paltry 8% and 6% and 2%, we should still be in a better place with better standards and evidence of where those little earnings percentages went. With all the money borrowed and debt load carried, we should have a few things to point to and invite others to take a look. I am not talking about paid political advertisements and crypto political manifestoes by another name.
The point of all of this is that everybody say that they didn’t teef, but yet we are among the poorest. It is possible the infallible World Bank erred. But there some economic indicators that are key to leading the way out of the morass. There are the politicians (almost all of them) and the customs officers (many of them) and police officers of every stripe (enough for a parallel police force) and court officers (enough to form a kangaroo court), who are the richest, most well-endowed people in this land. I extend this list to include those businesspeople, who are always crying that ‘business baaad.’ They are not poor, but extremely wealthy with all the trappings to attest, and this is without accounting for the secret holdings.
Editor, I have gone to great pains to avoid using such accusatory words as corrupt and compromised, since those are no longer fashionable and have zero traction nowadays. That is, unless they are hurled at the other folks across the divide. But, without mentioning a word about oil, we are poor, when we didn’t have to be, and with every accommodation for mismanagement and malfeasances, we still should not be so high up on the poverty line. My only conclusion is this: somebody is lying. Somebody is teefing. I know it is not me.