Guyanese continue to go unheard
A few weeks ago, a leading US Diplomat brought attention to some factors he believes are deterring investors from coming to Guyana. He identified some as high cost of electricity, security concerns, and a lack of transparency. He alluded to a 2018 World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report in which Guyana stands at 134 out of 190 countries. That report also noted infrastructure and Guyana’s complex taxation, citing duties on export, as other factors that deter business investments.Those comments have to be put into context. First, the APNU/AFC coalition Government has been in office over four years now. Secondly, the Government, when in Opposition, blamed the previous administration, the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C), of being incapable of dealing with security concerns and accused it of fostering lack of transparency under its tenure. Then, it also accused the PPP/C of creating unnecessary bureaucracy for investors and promised to make it easier. Fourthly, it used its combined Opposition one-seat Parliamentary majority to scuttle the Amaila Falls Hydropower project, which was designed to drastically cut energy cost.The latter was a major transformative project envisaged by the PPP/C. Had the APNU/AFC not deny parliamentary funding, it would have been completed already and Guyanese would have been reaping the much-needed benefits. Today, the ordinary citizens and investors, both local and foreign, are lamenting the unreliable and unstable electricity supply.The utility service has worsened over the Government’s four years in office as large sums are spent almost on a daily basis to inform consumers of scheduled countrywide prolonged power outages. This is in 2019! Many have resorted to both the traditional and non-traditional media to voice discontent over the continually increasing inconvenience imposed by the ongoing erratic supply. In addition, the APNU/AFC Government introduced VAT on the use of electricity and removed subsidies for pensioners, making more financially difficult for consumers.Many are still dumbfounded as to why political parties like APNU and AFC, and which continue to boast of having the welfare of the country and its people at heart, callously derailed the Amaila Falls project. Had it been realised, it would have furthered ongoing transformation at the time and ensured clean, reliable and cheap energy.Some political pundits posited that the APNU/AFC Opposition scuttled the project simply because it was envisaged by the PPP/C and its completion would have been another ground-breaking achievement by that Party.Any semblance of truth in that would suggest a transgression into the realms of political sabotage and duplicitousness on having the welfare of Guyana and Guyanese at heart on the part of APNU/AFC. The coalition also scuttled the Specialty Hospital project, withheld funding for the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) expansion and condemned the construction of the Marriott Hotel. The magnitude of the posited duplicitousness increases when those projects are taken into consideration.As it is, there seems no end in sight for the present electricity woes. That cannot be comforting to the ordinary citizens and investors. Similarly, despite the Government’s rhetoric and the allegation of it skewing statistics, crime continues unabated as fears are continually exacerbated. Much has been said about the Government’s boasts, while in Opposition, of intelligence capacity to effectively combat crime. This is one of the few areas that many believed the APNU/AFC coalition would deliver on given the personnel in its line-up.Four years after, crime has worsened with the main prison set ablaze by inmates and another now prone to escape. Having failed abysmally to combat the situation, the assigned Minister allegedly blamed victims for crimes perpetuated on them. This, reportedly, is on the heels of unabated lamentations by the citizenry and foreigners targeted by criminals.That aside, one of APNU/AFC’s main campaign issue, while in Opposition, was the restoration of transparency having accused the PPP/C government of fostering a lack of it. The coalition was relentless in its approach to convince the electorate and immediately after taking office, launched a slew of forensic audits of government agencies in its quest to unearth corruption it claimed was pervasive under the PPPC. Those audits failed to vindicate the APNU/AFC’s claims.Gauging from APNU/AFC’s position on transparency while in Opposition, one expected that as the government, any accusation of an absence of it, would be inconceivable. That expectation remains unfulfilled as a plethora of accusations of corruption continues to be levelled against it. The Durban Park project, the Sussex Street Bond and sole sourcing of medical supplies, are just a few instances of alleged corruption.Under this government, some two hundred new taxes were unleashed on Guyanese while investors have bemoaned prohibitive taxation. Some local businesses were either closed or downsized thereby increasing unemployment. Physical infrastructure continues to deteriorate as evident from that of the electricity’s and major roadways, including parts of the Lethem trail.The issues cited by the Diplomat are not new to what Guyanese would have raised concerns over; issues that APNU/AFC coalition castigated the PPP/C for and promised to deliver change. Questions abound over potential impact of the Diplomat’s comments as the cries of Guyanese continue to go unheard.