June 25, 2017

Tall tales…

…and integrity

If there was anything to that Pinocchio story, PM Moses Nagamootoo’s nose should be reaching further than his outstretched hands by now when it comes to the Integrity Commission he’s supposed to’ve launched over a year now. You remember the Integrity Commission, don’t you Dear Reader?? Yeah…that institution the PNC refused to participate in for a decade and a half because they said Bishop Randolph George, head of the Anglican Church, wasn’t a “fit and proper” person to head it!!

 So since then, even though it was the law of the land that all Members of Parliament report their income and assets to the Integrity Commission, the PNC MP’s refused to do so. So, who cared they were breaking the law – certainly not them! But when they slinked into Government leading the “APNU/AFC coalition”, suddenly they became all hot and sweaty about a “Code of Conduct” for their MP’s and Ministers. NOT the Integrity Commission.

Raphael Trotman, then in charge of “Governance”, announced the Code would be built on a foundation of the Ten Principles of Public Life – accountability, dignity, diligence, duty, honour, integrity, loyalty, objectivity, responsibility and transparency!! That took months to compile!! During which time, of course, such “accountable” acts like collecting of private funds by a Minister of Government for constructing Jubilee Stadium slipped through the absent Code of Conduct net.

Then “Governance” was handed off to Nagamootoo (who should’ve had it in the first place, under the Cummingsburg Accord). What to do about the Code of Conduct? You couldn’t very well implement it when warehouses had to be set up by Government Ministers, Ministers had to get scholarships when they were on their jobs and so on. But Nagamootoo – with 50 years of experience at this sort of thing – came to the rescue!!

Like Christopher Columbus of yore, he discovered the Integrity Commission to which he would yoke the Code to that Commission. But hold it! That needed legislation to mesh the institutions. So the Code was passed to the Parliamentary Drafting office for “Drafting” – NOT stalling! And that’s where it stood while mega pharma contracts were hived off illegally to foreign companies who built arches and donated fridges…and suchlike.

But now, two years later, Nagamootoo glided down from the mountain top and burning bush and announced the combined “Code of Conduct and Integrity Commission” is nigh upon us! While he didn’t have two engraved stone tablets, he assured us it will address, “issues of bribes, discrimination, gifts, conflict of interest, use of official influence, handling of classified information, use of public property, sexual misconduct and entertainment.”

Does “use of official influence” exclude helping sons-in-law?

…at Culture Ministry

Over the last couple of hundred years, there’s been an ongoing debate about what’s usually purveyed as “culture”, is actually elitist “high culture”. There’s since been a sustained movement to rope in the more mass-based “culture of the people” into the swing of things. In Guyana, it seems the Culture Department in the Education Ministry has taken its mandate rather seriously. This was first exhibited at the Jubilee celebrations when the Ministry – under the direct direction of its Minister – introduced the “culture of confusion” that permeates every Guyanese mass event – from weddings to bus parks.

At the ongoing Public Account Committee’s (PAC’s) hearings we now see the mass “culture of corruption” has also been taken up by the Culture Department of the Ministry. Quite blithely, the PS announced that somehow the employment of 50 persons slipped off the radar when it came to following the proper hiring procedures. But of course, it didn’t…really.

 They just introduced the “common touch” of hiring “we own” into the Ministry!

…and fishy stories

Once again, we’re hearing that tilapia will be the salvation of GuySuCo. Didn’t Burnham and the PNC try this back in the day when they were trying to make sugar workers redundant?

 That’s when the GNS failed to break GAWU’s 177-day “recognition” strike!!

Unity…

…in coalitions?

The meeting between Prezzie and the WPA might’ve been precipitated by the demotion of the latter group’s co-leader, but it seems that the larger issue of the internal relationships within the APNU umbrella was raised.

They’ll all be meeting in July, but we don’t know the agenda as yet. It should be interesting, however, if for no other reason than that it reminds Guyanese exactly who’re in this “coalition” with the PNC.

In case you’ve forgotten, back in 2011, when it was launched, we were told “A Partnership for National Unity (APNU)” consists of the PNCR, the WPA, the GAP, the NFA, the Guyana People’s Partnership (GPP), the Guyana National Congress (GNC), the Guyana Association of Local Authorities, the National Democratic Front (NDF), and the Justice for All Party (JFAP). Did we get them all??

As your Eyewitness noted recently, all these groups were really just adding “lipstick to a pig” – in the memorable phrase of President Obama. Do any of you, dear readers, recognise any of them – with the exception of GAP and WPA? These latter two are probably the only groups with any kind of name recognition; but folks could be excused for going along with the PNC’s dismissal even of them.

With GAP, which had insisted on the distinction most folks thought was without a difference — calling itself a “hinterland” party, rather than an Indigenous Peoples’ Party — it was clear that party had no clout in the Government. Why else would the latter include Amerindian land issues with African ancestral land issues? GAP not only shot itself in the foot, but plunged a spear into its heart. It really boggled the mind of your Eyewitness when the Govt insisted the agreement on Amerindian lands — part of the agreement with Britain to grant us independence (Annex “C”) — could be made the subject of a CoI. What was there to “inquire” into? Anyhow, if it’s not “sayonara” to GAP, it ain’t “Hakuna Matata”!!!

As for the WPA, what more can be said about that party that hasn’t already been muttered? Before that July meeting, shouldn’t the WPA at least vet the words of the PNC via their actions on Roopnaraine? So exactly what will he be doing over at the Ministry of the Presidency? Looking after the Public Service, as was first announced? In other words, the Coalition’s answer to Jennifer Westford? Or will be in charge of the “Department of Innovation and Education Reform”, as we just heard? And exactly what is THAT?

Your Eyewitness figures that, at the July conclave, the PNC will just remind its “partners” they really hold no pieces in the game of chess that’s realpolitik!

Checkmate!!

…on crime fighting?

On one hand, we hear the police are really on the ball when it comes to crime fighting! All kinds of positive figures have been tossed out to convince us of that “fact”. But with statistics, what’s covered up is always more revealing (pun intended) than what’s exposed! For instance, what’s this nonsense about the police is so hapless on the “assassination threat” to Prezzie, the poor man was forced to launch a CoI to look into the matter??

All the man in charge of the police — Public Security Minister Ramjattan — could say was, “All of us didn’t like what was playing out. It was taking a long time, the witness wasn’t turning up, confrontation and a number of things concerning all of that.” The GPF’s been boosted from 3000 to 4000 trained operatives, and we can’t have a “confrontation” when Prezzie’s facing a threat!!!??

What nonsense! Obviously Prezzie knows it’s a conflict of interest for him to craft the ToR of a CoI when he’s the target.

But what can he do?

…and victory

Your Eyewitness was enthralled by Pakistan’s victory over India in the Champion’s Trophy final. Those fellas were united in defending the honour of their beleaguered country.

And they came through like true champions. Pakistan Zindabad!!

Holding fast…

…on GECOM Chair

Your humble Eyewitness isn’t one who likes to crow, “I TOLD YOU SO!” But he has to mention that the outcome of the widely heralded second meeting of Prezzie and Opposition Leader Jagdeo was predicted by him.

Not that he’s any analytical whiz or anything – it was clear that we’re looking at a game of “chicken” played out in bright daylight. And neither party (singly and collectively) is willing to jump off the rails as the speeding train of the integrity of our electoral machinery careens out of control.

Now some might say the whole issue of the criteria for selecting the GECOM Chair is moot – seeing as how the Chancellor’s promised to pronounce this Thursday on the petition of businessman Gaskin on the matter. But your Eyewitness is of those jaded types who just don’t believe in stories with all loose ends tied up and folks living happily ever after. Even those Brothers Grimm stories, after all, were REALLY grim, when you think about them! Like with wolves devouring children, old ladies boiling and eating same and all that!

From the very beginning, Prezzie had to’ve known it’ll come down to the Judiciary making the call. After all, it’s a matter of interpreting the Constitution. Even a lost-in-the-woods fella like Basil Williams couldn’t have told him otherwise – contrary to the florid asservations of the latter’s Court Jester, Maxwell E Edwards. Prezzie was just working the plan when he rejected Jagdeo’s first list at the beginning of the year.

The Chancellor then was still Justice Singh, who’s stubbornly stuck to the letter of the law – and his post! – even in the face of naked provocation and insults by Basil Williams. But Singh would be gone by Republic Day when he delivered the judgement on what folks call ‘the third term case”. But that was just a feint – the main play was the chairmanship of GECOM, which after all, would deliver the kingdom for at least another five years! Then oil would be flowing and many sins would be covered (with money)!

And so a new Chief Justice and Chancellor were appointed – both “acting”. In Guyana, of course, “acting” is the name of our local “Sword of Damocles” – which the Government hangs over the heads of officials to keep them in line. Do it or its “off with their heads”!! The acting appointee doesn’t even have to be told what to do in this case. With the selection of the GECOM chair playing out for six months in the public domain – the Chancellor knows from whence the wind is blowing!

From Vlissengen Road way!!

Will the centre hold?

… on Praetorians

This newspaper ran an interesting editorial on the PNC-led APNU/AFC Government talking on a “praetorian form”. “What the heck was that?” thought your usually well-informed Eyewitness. So as his (paid) duty – he duly looked into it. And lo and behold – as some of the more Biblically-minded among us may say – a lot of things made sense.

A Praetorian government is basically one that’s dominated by the military – because the originally civilian government considers it a “force for modernisation”. After WWII, Third World countries emerging from colonialism were seen as “backward” because they didn’t have the institutions to organise them for development. Armies were seen as possessing the requisite discipline from their training by the departing colonists.

Why not use them? Burnham – for several reasons – bought the line and expanded his militarised forces exponentially. But inevitably, the mean-ends dilemma pops up. Can you use fellas steeped in anti-democratic tradition to create democracy?

Very simply – history says the answer is “NO!!”

…on welshing

To ‘welch” on someone is not to keep your promise or word to them. Some think it’s a slur on the Welsh” who the English thought weren’t quite trustworthy.

The Education PS Welsh’s answers to the PAC’s questions hint at his antecedents?

Man in the Mirror…

…and the PM

In charge of the State media, PM Nagamootoo awarded himself a column in this Sunday’s Chronic – “My Turn”.  It’s a Freudian slip, since he promptly launched into an attack on his bete noir, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo. One wonders whether he’ll allow Jagdeo “his turn”. Your Eyewitness doubts it, ‘cause everyone in this Government sees their stint at the wheel as “their turn” to commit all the things they described as “despicable” under the PPP.

But your Eyewitness would like to offer some wise advice to the PM from an unlikely source — Michael Jackson. But then a verse in the Book of Psalms in the Bible has this to say about God, “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast Thou ordained strength”. In the “Man in the Mirror”, the lyricist (not Jackson, incidentally) says in the recurring chorus: “I’m starting with the man in the mirror/ I’m asking him to change his ways/ And no message could have been any clearer:/ If you wanna make the world a better place/ Take a look at yourself and then make a change.”

The verses each describe real-life dire situations in the world that scream for change, and maybe we can take the same examples Nagamootoo used to flay Jagdeo to show where Nagamootoo should change himself and do something, rather than just blame others. HE is in government, and is the PRIME MINISTER, no?

Nagamootoo criticises Jagdeo for saying there can be poverty in Guyana IN the midst of expected oil revenues. If his govt destroys sugar, rice and forestry, aren’t they fulfilling Jagdeo’s prediction of a “Resource Curse”?

Nagamootoo brings up sugar, but wasn’t it he who had assured sugar workers they wouldn’t lose their jobs when Granger said the industry had to be closed down?? How can he now defend the arbitrary closure of three Estates with no alternative employment provided, or even in sight?? Has he gone to the hot and dusty streets of Wales and asked any of the men, women, or children — who have no income now that 1700 of them have been fired? Is he not bothered? “This wind is blowin’ my mind:/ I see the kids in the street, with not enough to eat/ Who am I to be blind, pretending not to see their needs/ A summer’s disregard, a broken bottle top/ And one man’s soul/ They follow each other on the wind ya know/ Cause they got nowhere to go/ That’s why I want you to know.”

Nagamootoo should realise, “I’ve been a victim of a selfish kinda love/ It’s time that I realize/ There are some with no home/ Not a nickel to loan/

“Could it be really me (Nagamootoo) pretending that they’re not alone?”

…and forked tongue

Nagamootoo boasts of being a writer, and he actually wrote a book. In “My Turn”, he confirms the book Henree’s curse was a piece of fiction. He opens thusly: “REACTING to a hurricane of negative statements being made by the Opposition, a coalition supporter advised: “Don’t worry wid dem, PM”. As I looked at her, she added: “They speaking wid forked tongue”!

Nagamootoo then goes into a long and laboured explanation of the phrase, “forked tongue”: “When a person is accused of speaking with a forked tongue, that person is said to be hypocritical, duplicitous and misleading. The statements by that person would be riddled with half-truths, falsehoods and distortions. It is hard to believe someone who speaks with a forked tongue.”

Now, let’s get real, dear readers: which person who speaks to a Prime Minister in the vernacular, “Don’t worry wid dem, PM”, segues into allusions to “forked tongue”? If that expression were that common, why the tortured (and tortuous) explanation? Clearly it’s another Freudian slip.

Nagamootoo knows HE cannot speak, but with a “forked tongue”.

…and broken dreams

Poor Nagamootoo. All his angst is from not getting to be President. As Michael sang: “A willow deeply scarred, somebody’s broken heart… And a washed out dream.”

 

Meaningless…

…meetings

Every business executive has some basic rules on “meetings,” and one of the first rules is to ask, “What’s this meeting about?” If you aren’t clear about the goals of the meeting, you’ll be wasting your time, and you might as well don’t show up.

We don’t know about politicians, but here it is: Prezzie’s rejected the Opposition Leader’s second list of nominees for the GECOM Chair, and now wants a meeting.

Is it your Eyewitness, or is it déjà vu? What happened after the meeting following the first rejection? Prezzie had intimated that only names of ex-judges should be submitted, but then grudgingly conceded it could be other “fit and proper” persons.

Jagdeo had wanted a meeting to clarify what the heck the President understood by “fit and proper” as it related to the constitutional criteria to fill the GECOM Chair. Barring that, Jagdeo said he’d want the matter to be decided by the CCJ. Interpretation of the constitution is, after all, solely the responsibility of the Judiciary.

Prezzie declined the meeting, but said he’d offer clarity via his Attorney General, Basil Williams. A couple of months later, Prezzie decided to meet Jagdeo, but promised only to make his position clear again. Nothing decided…just stalling for time…wasted meeting.

Most observers figured Prezzie was hoping to frustrate Jagdeo; and if no list was submitted, by provision of the Constitution, he could unilaterally appoint whomever he wanted as the Chair. The person he had earmarked, according to insiders, was ex-Justice Claudette La Bennet.

After that meeting, Basil Williams announced, via a press release, who was “fit and proper”: “His Excellency did elaborate a little more on that, and he identified the three ‘Is’, which is to say that: the person must be a person of Integrity, the person must be a person who is Independent and the person must be someone who is Impartial.” The problem was that those qualities were pretty general and were subject to wide interpretation; but Jagdeo did submit that second list — which was duly rejected, and we arrive at the request for the second meeting.

“What’s the point of this meeting?” your Eyewitness asks once again. To provide another opportunity for the state photographer to position himself so he could catch Granger looming over Jagdeo as the latter ascends the State House stairs and is forced to shake the former’s outstretched hand like a supplicant? It’s become the Chronic’s favourite pic of the two leaders.

Prezzie knows Jagdeo can’t go unilaterally to the CCJ, which only has original jurisdiction on the CSME. Initial interpretive recourse lies in the local courts.  Prezzie would be counting on the plasticity of the latter.

Jagdeo should test them, rather than waste his time with meetings.

…mumblings

It all started so promisingly when the APNU and AFC were in Opposition — especially after 2011, when they caught up with the PPP. So many things they were going to do! Procurement? No sweat…They were going to make that so tight and so transparent we’d know even the number of sweets bought to calm skittish kids getting injections!! But oh, what a tangled web they’ve woven as they bled the Treasury dry with pharma scandals; and yet, scarcely an aspirin tablet can be found!

All we get are vague mumblings! What about the details of all those contracts from which the PPP were “siphoning off” billions and billions to fill their pockets? Mumble…Mumble… They’ve had two years to check out, say, the airport expansion contract. Why not “out” the PPP? Mumble…Mumble… They couldn’t possibly be doing the same things they accused the PPP of doing, could they?

Could it be that their fire-and-brimstone vituperations were just projections of what was in their twisted psyches all along?? Bun dem!!

…revelations on Exxon contract

Who does Trotman think he’s fooling?? The days are long gone when Guyanese would accept just mumblings on what he’s given up to Exxon.

Don’t blame Exxon for driving a hard bargain. Blame the Govt for assigning Mr Clueless as our point man!

Shooting Guyana’s foot…

…with rice

Guyanese were, last week, informed by the head of the RPA in Berbice that less rice was planted this crop, because farmers were losing their shirts over the prices they were getting for paddy. That’s not surprising…and in fact the question that occupied your Eyewitness’s mind was why they’d kept planting at the old rate for so long. After the PNC-led APNU/AFC government let the lucrative Venezuelan market of US$780/tonne slip away when they slipped into office in 2015, what was left for them??

A world market price of around US$450/tonne…that’s what! And with the prices of all the inputs — pesticides, fertilisers, harvesting, ploughing and husbandry, and diesel remaining unmoved — farmers were now caught between a rock and a hard place.

The banks were the first to feel the squeeze, since the farmers just couldn’t service the loans they routinely take to tide them over from crop to crop. Loan defaults cascaded like a breeze blowing through ripe paddy fields. Bad loans had to be written off, and their bottom line turned red!

But since most farmers operate at a subsistence level, they had nowhere to turn; and for the last three crops, they’ve been holding their breaths, hoping that the market PM Nagamootoo promised them in Mexico would materialise. But like all of us, they had to exhale sometime…which seems like now. They realise Nagamootoo’s promise of G$9000/bag of paddy and the Mexican Market were all part of his usual mamaguy!

Nagamootoo now says he never promised G$9000/bag paddy, and this is a “free market,” wherein supply and demand dictate prices. Fair enough. But that’s why your Eyewitness was flummoxed to read over the weekend that the only promise Government was keeping after the closure of Wales sugar estate was to put hundreds of acres into rice!! That’s right — rice farmers, who take meticulous care of their fields to ensure average yields of 40 bags/acre, can’t survive at present prices, but Government has decided to plunge into increased rice production!!

Aren’t they going to depress prices further?? Are they trying to destroy the rice industry, just as they did with sugar?? Why else would they now compete with private rice farmers?? If anything, one would’ve thought this Government might have learnt a lesson with sugar…Centralised production just isn’t the way to go. Are they planning to repeat the PNC’s massive investment in silos, mills and all the other infrastructure necessary for rice?

Or will they purchase the ones they sold off to Alesie for a song a while back? THAT private investor abandoned rice!

But then, profits were never the raison d’etre for PNC’s policies in agri, right??

…on the environment

Donald Trump just doesn’t get it, does he? Leaders are supposed to lead, aren’t they? But all he’s concerned about is to feed his ego off the anxiety of his supporters in the sticks – who’ll blame anybody but themselves for their problems. Take the damage to the environment through excessive carbon emission. Even though companies like Exxon tried to duck the data, a government’s not like a private company — always trying to maximise shareholders’ value in the next quarterly report.

A govt has to look at the longer term. It’s not just Guyana that’ll be under water if global warming isn’t checked; so will Florida and huge swathes of NY – including Wall Street. But Trump panders to his “flat-earthers” to abandon the Paris commitments made by the Obama Administration because he’s expecting others to carry the US’ load.

Maybe they will. But countries like China and India will also steal the US’ thunder and get a headstart on the “next big thing”.

Alternative energy sources…not alternative facts!!

…at GWI

Some are wondering why Mayor Patricia Chase-Green was made Chair of GWI. Well, with the parking meters in limbo for a while, new sources of income have to be mined to placate the meter-funders from Colombia.

Their collection methods are a tad extreme!!

Changes…

…in class perspective

The PPP was first “abashedly” a Marxist party. But after playing ducks and drakes on the subject with US President John F. Kennedy and getting a quick ouster from office, Jagan came out of the closet in 1969 to declare HIS party was Communist. Among his impressionable protégés were the rustic Moses Nagamootoo from Berbice and the urban (and urbane) Ralph Ramkarran from Bel Air, Georgetown.

 Mechanistically following the 19th century European procrustean categories of Marxist sociology, they aped Jagan to insist that race/ethnicity was a mere “epiphenomenon” and class was “fundamental”. Well, now that both have parted ways with the PPP, they’ve evidently done a U-turn on their views.

Nagamootoo was only too happy to insist on 40% of the Cabinet if he and the AFC delivered “Indian” votes. But even though Nagamootoo had denied his ethnicity, he had to have come to a modus vivendi with the question of race/ethnicity to make THAT bargain.

Rather belatedly, it would appear that Ralph Ramkarran has also now decided to trade in his hammer and sickle. He’d been more passionate about the working class than the rough-around-the-edges Nagamootoo; probably overcompensating for his middle class origin! In his blog this week, he’s quoted as declaring: “But the reality is that the main ethnic groups in Guyana live compartmentalised lives, whether in mixed communities or not, separated by our differences, and hardly ever interacting socially, culturally or politically. We are different nations, living separate lives, subsisting in the same homeland and competing for scarce resources.”

Whew!! Ramkarran sounds more extreme than those Indianists and Africanists who flood the letters columns with what he used to deride as “atavistic” outpourings. But doesn’t he owe the Guyanese public a reason for his abrupt volte face? Before the last elections, he’d praised his erstwhile competitor for the title of “Best Marxist in the PPP” as doing the right thing for denying his ethnicity for the sake of “national unity”. Which, your Eyewitness concluded, had to mean Nagamootoo and his new allies in APNU would be ushering in a “unity” based on class.

Has Ramkarran become so embittered by the virulent racism exhibited by the coalition government against Indians over the distribution of “scarce resources” during the last two years that he’s become resigned to accepting race politics? Is Ramkarran about to champion the “cause” of Indians in light of his sudden epiphany? But what’s the end game for a country with “different nations, living separate lives”? Surely he doesn’t envisage the “different nations” fighting unto eternity?

Or is he going to propose we go the way of Yugoslavia, which fissioned into five “homelands” for its five nations”?

New converts are always the most extreme!

…on diaspora policies?

What’s with this Government and the diaspora? It’s like one of those “hold me, loose me” soap operas. In both the 2011 and 2015 elections, the diaspora played a major role in helping the coalition (AFC and APNU were a “coalition” in all but name by 2011) first checkmate the PPP, and then seize their kingdom. They, not unreasonably, had great expectations of getting a piece of the action in the new dispensation, not least because the APNU/AFC combine had MADE promises such as giving them a seat in Parliament. But it all came to naught in the midst of diasporic weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.

But, once again, the administration’s girding up its loins to engage the diaspora. They started out on safe turf — with ex-GDF types in the States. But they really need to explain what’s gonna be different this time.

“Fool us once, shame on the admin; fool us twice, shame on the diaspora”!

…on PM status?

In dishonouring the promises of the Cummingsburg Accord to increase the powers of the Prime Minister, APNU claimed it was unconstitutional to have PM chair Cabinet. But Article 106 (3) says, “Cabinet Meetings shall be presided over by (b) in the absence of the President, the Prime Minister.”

All Prezzie’s gotta do is not show up!!

Waiting to exhale…

…on Local Government Commission

The PNC-led APNU/AFC Government scraped the bottom of the barrel to come up with “125 accomplishments” during their first two years in office. Probably the same barrel they scraped for their 69 National Awardees! They should’ve at least gone back to their Manifesto and taken a gander at the 1254 promises that are still waiting to be fulfilled!

One of them was the formation of a Local Government Commission (LGC). Ever since the PNC had bludgeoned the PPP in the streets in the aftermath of the 1997 election, reform of the entire Local Government system was demanded and elicited. The PNC – and later the AFC – complained that the PPP at the Central level was emasculating local government to serve their own (nefarious) purposes. A LGC would remove and assume oversight of local government bodies from the Minister of Local Government (now Minister of Communities).

The PNC and PPP formed a committee to make recommendations since 2001. Finally, in 2013, the Bill was signed. But not before the PNC/APNU and the AFC strenuously demanded the PPP “do the right thing”. The AFC even used the PPP’s signing of the Bill as a prerequisite for them going along with the Money Laundering Bill in 2014. That’s how important they (virtuously) insisted, giving autonomy to folks at the local level was to the future of democracy.

But as soon as the Local Government Elections were held in 2015 and the PPP won most of the NDC’s and RDC’s, the hemming and hawing by the PNC/AFC Government began. At first, they bought some time by EXPLAINING the virtues of the LGC!! In March 2016, APNU announced: “The Commission, once established, will take over most of the current oversight role exercised by the Ministry of Communities. The Ministry, therefore, will no longer have the ability to degrade the capacity of local government organs which will now be able to exercise executive authority in keeping with the autonomy guaranteed by the constitution.”

Two months later, Minister of Communities Bulkan announced the LCD’s launch was “imminent” and could be “as soon as next month” – June 2016. By then the PPP had submitted their three candidates and the Trade Unions their one. All that remained was for Prezzie to submit his three, all on his own – without any list from the Opposition Leader!!… and Bulkan one, on advise of Local Government Leaders. Bulkan said they were “vetting” their candidates.

 One year later, Bulkan says they’re still not ready to name their candidates. Presumably they’re still “vetting” them.

 Now that Dr Surujbally’s free to practice his profession as a Vet, maybe they should call him in??

…on Venezuela

When it comes to getting rid of Maduro, the successor to Hugo Chávez who was more than a pain in the posterior to the US – the democrats and Republicans are as one. Starting with Clinton (D), followed by Bush (“sulphurous” smell!!) and Obama they all tried to oust Chávez. Obama didn’t skip a beat with Maduro and now that Trump’s in office, while he may be an outlier on many issues – Venezuela and Maduro isn’t one of them. Maduro must go!!

But seem not all of the institutions that keep America ticking. It was just announced that Goldman Sachs – just bought US$2.8 billion worth of State-owned Venezuelan PDVSA’s bonds. For a country that’s reeling from an imploding economy and a Government that’s facing a resurgent Opposition – whether or not backed by the US – that infusion of cash is like manna from heaven!

 But then Goldman had to only pay .31 cents on the dollar for the bonds. Profits always trumps patriotism, no?

…to travel

Nandlall claimed SOCU “blacklisted” 200 persons from leaving the jurisdiction. After two weeks, the Police replied indignantly it wasn’t so. It was 139 over the last 10 years!!

They missed the point. If even ONE person’s blacklisted without being charged, it’s illegal!!

Time compression…

…by Government

The PNC-led APNU/AFC coalition spent millions of taxpayers’ dollars producing a 16-page insert in the Chronic “celebrating” their two-year stint at the helm of the ship of state, Guyana. It’s like the Captain of the Titanic celebrating the 115th anniversary of hitting that iceberg in the North Atlantic!! But at least the Titanic’s captain had the grace to go down with his ship, didn’t he?

But in Guyana, even though the Government deliberately ignored all the warnings by the business community, the Opposition and independent analyst that they’ve been steering the Guyanese economy directly into the iceberg called “recession”, it fell on deaf ears. And the Guyanese economy’s in a free fall headed to the bottom of the whirlpool of economic debris. And these jokers have the chutzpah to “celebrate”!!

What’s to celebrate? From where this Eyewitness sits, their only achievement is offering another proof of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity – in the social world. At its heart that now venerable theory is very simple: as things move faster, for outside observers, time slows down. What the PNC-led APNU-AFC Government has done is to move so fast in destroying within two years the economy the PPP rebuilt in 23 years. Guyanese are convinced the PNC’s been ruling for 23 years!! That’s how long they feel they’ve been suffering!! Twenty-three years have been compressed into two years!! Roll over Einstein!! Meet the PNC!

But your Eyewitness can now see some method to the madness from official quarters. The Shill wasn’t only deflecting criticisms of a “do nothing” government, he was also trumpeting their “success”!! But he, at least, was pithy, even as he was pitiful!! This latest output of the Chronic was so prolix, your Eyewitness was seriously challenged to plough through them. They’re so much garbage a fella can rummage through!!

So, what was the insert all about. They started out by reprinting Prezzie’s “Swearing-in” address, where he proclaimed “A year of renewal”. The only thing’s “renewed” is the despair from the PNC’s first stint at the helm under Burnham. This was followed by PM Nagamootoo taking 2000 words to announce a “new paradigm” in “a new democracy”. He certainly knows what he’s talking about. In this “new paradigm”, all the terms of the Accord defining the “new democracy” giving him more powers were broken by the PNC. But the PM’s not only mute – he insists everything is “OK”!!

But the biggest joke of all was the article on Basil Williams announcing his “top priority”: “Restoring the ‘rule of law’!! While your Eyewitness isn’t any spring chicken, on reading that he immediately began “ROTFLMAO”!!

Rolling on the floor, laughing my ‘a55’ off!!

…in money laundering

They say you shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. But then you gotta make sure the “gift horse” isn’t a “Trojan Horse”, don’t you?? This thought flashed into your Eyewitness’ mind when he read of the donation of G$4 billion drugs by a US NGO – Guyana Medical Relief Council – to the tune of US$20 million!! Now this is real money – greenbacks – not Guyana’s monopoly-money.  The Bank of Guyana recently claimed they stabilised THE ENTIRE GUYANESE ECONOMY by pumping the same amount into the banks!!

Some raised concerns these drugs might be expired or “almost”- expired – and will soon be dumped. Some worried the drugs might have nothing to do with the specific ailments that trouble Guyanese – like diabetes.

But your Eyewitness is worried the US just warned Guyana was still on their radar for laundering money.

Isn’t this what getting a US tax-write-off for US$20 million of expired drugs, is?? Let’s follow the money, SOCU or FBI!!

…at D’Urban Park

We just heard, from one military personnel, Bess, to another, Nicolett, that D’Urban Park’s about to be “spruced up” for Independence 50+1.

But wasn’t it only a year ago G$1.3 billion was spent to “fix it up” for Jubilee?

Ahh…how time (and money) flies when the scandals come fast and furious!!

 

What’s missing…

…in the “accomplishments”

Sometimes what’s missing is even more important than what’s present. That’s what struck your Eyewitness when he perused the 125 “accomplishments” the PM’s Shill compiled to ward off criticisms about the coalition being a “do-nothing” government. Now when you come down to it… what exactly was it the folks who voted the coalition into office wanted? OK…not to just throw out the PPP because of ethnic sentiments (APNU) or revenge (Nagamootoo and Ramjattan in the AFC).

We’re talking about real bread-and-butter issues – like …well…bread and butter, for which one needs money to buy to keep body and soul together. Your Eyewitness is talking about jobs…jobs that’ll allow folks to work for THEIR money to maintain their dignity and not depend on handouts on breadlines. And that’s where the Shill went mute: not even a squeak about creating businesses that’d employ people.

 Instead, we hear about relaunching the National Service and the Cadet Corps and suchlike, to herd another generation into a dependency syndrome mentality. Rather than, say, closing down the sugar industry and talking vaguely about ‘leasing the land’ to workers, why couldn’t the Government identify some specific crop, provide the seed money, and identify markets?? Or launch some new industries like the Eastern Tigers??

Don’t they remember what the Japanese Government did when the Mazda rotary engine gamble went bust?? They didn’t just wring their hands and launched National Services to sop up the unemployed. They identified a strategic global need for oil tankers – occasioned by OPEC’s new monopoly  and got Mazda into the business of building tankers. That didn’t mean Mazda went out of the car business – but they got a breather that was a win-win for them and the country. Japanese got jobs, and Japan benefited.

 But your Eyewitness will tell you why this government isn’t going to move in that direction to create jobs – apart from having to find sinecures for all those army veterans who just can’t cut it in business. And apart from not appreciating that SOMEONE has to make profits – and get rich in the process – in a capitalist economy.

 Thing is, most of those who have the background to run successful businesses aren’t going to roll over and play dead like back in the first PNC turn at the wheel. The modern liberalised world offers more options for capital – which after all, is the very definition of “fungible”. Have you noticed some of them already starting to move out?? But back to where we started – what’s missing.

 The PM’s Shill – like most of his cohorts – having never even run a cake shop, is absolutely clueless about what it takes to  MAKE money.

All they can do is spend it!!

…in rice

One of the “accomplishments” the Shill claimed was to have secured “New markets for rice”. And once again this government exposes its total ignorance of what makes a “market” for a person who produces goods to sell. A market is one in which you MAKE A PROFIT!! To break it even finer for the know-nothing government – you have to sell your goods at a higher price than what you produced it for.

 A market isn’t one where you make a loss…that’s DUMPING!! Could the Shill tell the nation which market they opened up where rice farmers and millers are making a profit?? Was it the one his boss Nagamootoo promised also two years ago he “secured” in Mexico?? Could he tell the nation how many tonnes of rice or paddy have been shipped to Mexico??

 Your Eyewitness will spare him the effort. Zilch!! Nada!! Zero!! While bull-sh*t may help grow rice as manure, it doesn’t create markets!!

…in the new GECOM list??

One of the nominees for the GECOM Chair by the Opposition Leader confessed he doesn’t think Prezzie will select anyone from the second list.

Of course, he won’t! That special female ex-Judge wasn’t on it!!