This past week provided further evidence that APNU+AFC is wrapped in unabated absurdities and perversions of facts as they deliberately try to kerfuffle people, rather than pursue sound development policies. Three things this past week proved that APNU+AFC has no idea of how to move Guyana forward. In May 2015 when they took over, they needed to build on where we were as a country. Instead, through a combination of absurdities, lies, misrepresentations and misdirection, APNU+AFC reversed direction and taken Guyana back to the stupidities and absurdities of the 1970s and 1980s when, as poverty mounted, the PNC government celebrated with monuments and arches.
Last week we witnessed behavior from APNU+AFC that was baffling, outrageous, unfathomable, just plain bizarre. There is a fetish obsession with arches which are far more important to David Granger and APNU+AFC (the newest form of the PNC) than are industries like sugar and rice and the employment and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Guyanese. According to reports, Granger stated that the $20M arch on the East Coast Highway, near the University of Guyana, donated by Ansa McAl, signals the vibrancy of Caribbean economy, is a tribute of corporate investment in Guyana and that the arch epitomizes the friendship between Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana.
How does the arch portray a vibrant economy? The arch is up, but sugar estates are closing, workers are being laid off, people and businesses are over-burdened with new taxes. Ansa McCal was granted a gift of a $606 M sole-sourced contract for medicines that cost about $200M. Do the math – Ansa McCal gained $400M from inflated prices for medicines in return for investing $20M in an arch. In the process, local suppliers were deliberately and corruptly sidelined. The arch now stands as a permanent reminder of corruption. But Granger sees it as a symbol of a vibrant economy. This is a good example of the absurdities we have descended into.
The arch will do nothing to reverse a sliding economy, lost of jobs, over-burdened taxes, increasing foreign debt, drop in foreign direct investment and spiraling crime. It is not just sad, it is depressing that the Head of State has to resort to a $20M arch as an example of foreign direct investment and the vibrancy of the economy. The arch cannot be a substitute for closing sugar estates and it cannot be solace for rice farmers reeling from low paddy prices or increased financial burden for students at UG or lack of medicines in the health sector.
Meanwhile, his Attorney General is bragging of victory at the CCJ when, in fact, Guyana was ordered to pay a Trinidad beverage company billions of dollars as a refund for an environmental tax between 2011 and 2015. The AG lost another case in court and he now lies that we won. He also failed to inform people that there are other companies now in line to seek refunds from Guyana for the environmental tax. More importantly, they are not telling people that had APNU+AFC supported the PPP in 2011 to amend the law to reduce the environmental tax and for it to apply across the board for both foreign and locally produced beverages in bottles and plastic containers, Guyana would not have had to pay out billions to the Surinamese company and now to a Trinidad company and possibly to other Caribbean companies, including Ansa McCal .
This past week in Parliament saw the Prime Minister blatantly and shamelessly lying that APNU+AFC never promised rice farmers $9000 per bag of paddy. I heard Nagamootoo, Ramjattan and Charandass, together with Turhane Doerga and Jinnah Rahman in Regions 2, 3, 5 and 6 on TV and at APNU+AFC public meetings promised $9,000 per bag. Thousands of rice farmers and others can attest to this fact. Now that the rice farmers are getting prices as low as $1300 per bag of paddy, Nagamootoo is distancing himself from this promise. This is adding salt to the wound so cruelly inflicted on farmers. As if this lie is not enough, he also insists that Guyana has never had as much market for rice. The fact is that Guyana’s rice market today is one less than it was in May 2015. The much-vaunted Mexico market that Nagamootoo promised is still in our dreams.
The truth is that as scandals mount, the economy spiral downwards, thousands of workers laid off, APNU+AFC is caught in a quagmire of absurdities and perversions of the truth and facts. They believe that if they assume a bold, barefaced posture of misrepresentations and misdirection they could distract people from the malaise, corruption, downward spiral and hopelessness that Guyana is trapped in.
Dr. Leslie Ramsammy