Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017

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Christmas 2004
(Aired 25 December 2004)

    It has become something of an annual event, my telling the public how I perceive that we men spend the Christmas season, so this year I decided to do it outside the news and play it on Christmas and Boxing days as a sort of Christmas commentary, first I want to thank you for your support during the year and to wish you peace and happiness in the new year, I especially want to send a greeting to my two daughters in Canada who, now that these commentaries are on the Internet, want to know why I continually forget them when I send out my Christmas greetings, I have not forgotten you Amanda and Nicole Merry Christmas.

    This Christmas apart from the usual cob webbing and moving of furniture, my wife decided that our kitchen looked horrible and that she is not spending another second in it.

  Now ladies and gentlemen those of you who know my wife Jewel as the Boss at VCT will laugh at this, as I did, since we employ a cook and if Jewel cooks a complete meal more than five times in any one year, I am calling the Guinness Book of World Records people.

    Nevertheless on the off chance that we may have to fire the cook if the economy continues to go down drain the way it has been going, and we can't afford to pay her next year, I decided to do the safe thing and renovate the kitchen for her.

    First of all "fear is the key" in trying to renovate any house which is approaching 100 years old, and to give you an example of what these old colonial houses like mine are like I'll give you an actual example, a few years ago I decided to paint my bedroom and the painter having started the job, told me that he had found that there were some rotten boards in the wall, so I asked him to remove all the rotten boards in order that we can determine how much new wood we will have to buy.

  Several hours later when I came home from work and went into the bedroom I was horrified to see that nearly all of the wood had been removed, the place looked like a veranda, there were no walls at all.

   So this year expecting the worst, I summoned the VCT construction crew i.e. the boys who work in my Garden and under my personal command, carpenter/contractor Vieira commenced the destruction of the place. I am proud to tell you that we did not hire even one carpenter but we changed cupboard doors which we bought from a well known hardware store in Georgetown and sprayed them here at Versailles with car paint, of course not having a building code in this country the new doors we bought were different to the original, so where there were 4 cupboard doors there are now 5 and so on, the only really difficult part of the carpentry work was rebuilding the cupboards to the fit the new doors which were narrower, the renovation also entailed installing a new counter top and a new sink. Now there are huge money making Television programmes in the US, which we see on TV here, showing you how you can "make over" your house using a few basic things and some ingenuity. This not true here in Guyana.

   I have to take my hat off to Gafoor and National Hardware, they have achieved the impossible task of allowing the not so wealthy Guyanese, access to affordable home building paraphernalia. If one however wanted to be creative in a renovation or "makeover" situation in Guyana you have to be Houdini and David Copperfield combined since your choices are really limited. But between what was available at Gafoors, National Hardware and Kei-Shar's I managed to do the job. These are the pictures of before and after this makeover my wife is very happy with it and so am I. And no I do not do outside work. I will tell you that it is neater, more to my liking and cheaper than if I had simply employed a contractor.

   These little periods of rest from the normal stress of running a media operation like VCT which is a 24 hours a day story are good for me, the distraction of rebuilding something or the other every now and then really relaxes me, now remember that it was I as contractor with my boys here at Versailles who built and maintain everything that VCT owns, Blairmont, Bushy Park, Versailles, the Quamina Street studio, in 22 years VCT has never hired a contractor to build anything for us, we do it ourselves, we may hire extra hands to help but never a contractor, architect etc, it also keeps me fit since the body gets accustomed to the climbing and bending and at night you can actually sleep for a few weeks, which is the most important thing since it keeps your mind from dwelling on the complete nonsense going on everywhere around you.

   You then forget that there is an engineer in this country by the name of Sankies who is saying that we should be building up our hydropower potential, something that I have been telling you for nearly three and a half years, since I started these commentaries, this Mr. Sankies should be made President of Guyana and we should fire Jagdeo who is wasting our scarce money on the dead Sugar Industry, a cricket stadium, a new Caricom Building, a new Convention Centre, a 3 billion dollar Public Service modernization programme whilst giving the people who work in it a Paltry 5% salary increase, what sort of nonsense is that and it is not true that the IDB said that they must only get 5% the IDB said not more than 6%! The East Coast Road, why such an elaborate makeover at this time?

     Not one road built by the PPP in nearly 13 years is a new road going to a new place to enhance development, all of these projects are absolutely useless to our economy, it is criminal negligence for us not to have had Hydro Power in this country long before now, and the PNC must share the blame too, but I can tell you that it was an integral part of Desmond Hoyte's economic recovery programme and so was the road to Brazil, the PPP are going to make Guyana miss the boat with this road to Brazil too, they may have already done so, since Chaves had promised the Brazilians in a speech earlier this year in Manaus to build a deep water Harbor for them in Venezuela.

   All of this is happening because the PPP want to hold on to power in this country regardless of consequences to our people, and do not want any significant migration of the 38 thousand Guyanese living in Brazil back to Guyana to settle along this road, non of whom will vote for the PPP.  A national Census was completed this year and the full findings have never been disclosed except that 19 thousand Indo Guyanese have migrated from region 6, all that has happened is the PPP is finally paying a little attention to the Amerindians what does this tell you? It tells me that the Indo Guyanese are no longer the majority race in this country and that the Amerindians hold the balance of power, I hope the Amerindians are not deceived by all of this "beads passing" in their villages they have real power now and we must make the PPP aware of it, I have looked at the New Act that this socialist Government has proposed for the Amerindians, if these people want to go to the toilet they have to get ministerial permission, it is the same reason we have fought a Broadcast Bill for nearly 9 years, these are bills crafted to control broadcasting not to regulate it, and so is this Amerindian Act and we must join our Amerindian brothers and help to throw it out. There is a letter from one Sharon Atkinson in the Stabroek News of December 22nd captioned quote "draft Amerindian Act maintains Colonial relics and more" you are perfectly correct Ms. Atkinson this is a travesty and I for one am prepared to help the Amerindians fight it.

    Ladies and Gentlemen all the Trinidadians have over us is access to cheap power, nothing else! But look at how fast they are developing; their budget is three billion US a year, ten times what the annual budget of Guyana is, all of our resources should be spent on getting Hydro Power and nothing else until it is completed!  When it is completed then we will build this country there is no other way.

   And don't worry with those people at Power and Light who tell us that we don't need 600 megawatts of power; we will find a way to use it and in doing so we will build up the private sector and create jobs for our people, for example when the Aswan High Dam was first built in Egypt it used to supply 80% of Egypt's total electrical requirements now it barely supplies 19%. We will find a way to develop our economy and use the power to make value added goods from our natural resources, furniture instead of wood, Aluminum instead of Bauxite, alcohol from Sugar Cane.

   Imagine Mr. Jagdeo's concept of using the new Skeldon Factory to generate electricity for the national grid in a country as Rainy as Guyana, when I ask what will happen when the rainy seasons come and  the factory cannot grind to produce bagasse I get a deafening silence, it is utter stupidity, I always laugh at the people who regurgitate Burnham's slogan that Guyana is the Bread Basket of the Caribbean and forget how important power is to us, sure we have 83 thousand square miles but only the Coastal belt is viable agricultural lands, the interior is very sandy and the savannas are mostly toxic to most crops and difficult to access and to develop.

   We need cheap reliable power to empower ourselves and that power is here waiting for someone with a little vision to take the reigns of government in this country and get it, 7000 megawatts of it, that is more power than twice what every country in the Caribbean including Cuba and Haiti uses, the people who manage our national affairs are shallow, lazy and ignorant and somehow or the other I will have to convince you, all of you, both Indo and Afro Guyanese, that we are better off without them. 

    In the mean time I will tell you where Santa Clause is for us Guyanese, he is located along the Mazaruni river at various points with a free gift of over 3000 megawatts of Electricity for us, this can mean huge investment in our country, huge benefits for our peoples all we need is the conviction and the knowledge that it has to be done and let me tell you a secret, apparently none of them Jagdeo, Luncheon, Collymore, Nocta or Rohee understand it. 

   Not because I am doing a little construction work means that I am not keeping my eye on our situation, the work men have to go home sometime, I see our President making a long speech in the media which we are bombarded with several times a day from Channels 11, 65 and 69 as if it is a masterpiece of logic coming from the mouth of the almighty himself, what I see is complete nonsense, so if you will allow me let's examine what this President is saying in this long speech delivered Friday 17th December at the Office of the President, to which all media were invited, now it is Christmas so I will not burden you with all of the flaws in this speech just four or five of them, I have already told you about this nonsense of generating electricity at Skeldon from the new sugar Factory.

   Mr. Jagdeo in this speech also tells us that the Ansa/Banks matter should serve as a wake up call for companies to be managed properly in order to create equity and value for their shareholders, but it is this same Bharat Jagdeo who raised the consumption tax on Beer in this country by 10 percent last week!! So if creative management only serves to alert the government to tax you more, why declare any profit at all?  

   Then he tells us that it is time for companies to start paying attention to their shareholders, well Mr. Jagdeo I am a shareholder in this country and I am totally dissatisfied with the way you are running it, and so does half of the rest of the population.

   He also told the media that Banks had not asked him to get involved in the Ansa matter and so he has not done anything about the take over, but here is a local company fighting for its very existence and all that Jagdeo can do to help them, is increase their taxes and therefore their profits, and he has the gall to say that they did not ask for his help? Is Jagdeo kidding? Who at DIH would ask for his help when it is clear that his agenda is to crucify them?

   Then we come to the most subtle nonsense of all Mr. Jagdeo says this and I Quote him "on the one hand you have 13,000 share holders who want to maximize value ... on the other hand you have the employees who are not sure of what the company that wants to take over will do, whether it would break up the company and shift production elsewhere" end quote.

    So let me understand this! This president is saying that he is not concerned if production is shifted elsewhere and 1500 jobs are lost in this country and he does not feel obligated by his oath of office to call in Ansa and ask them what the hell their intentions are? I would

   He then tells the media workers that sooner than later the government will get involved since the Bank of Guyana, which everyone knows is controlled by him, will have an interest in who they are dealing with if Ansa gets control of Citizens Bank.

  So I have this question, when we privatized the Co-op Bank and sold it to Republic Bank, an already existing Bank, why was Mr. Jagdeo totally oblivious to the fact that Republic Bank did not want to operate the Co-Op bank as an independent entity but to absorb it into NBIC and Republic Bank of Trinidad and Tobago removing competition in the banking sector and in the process were not hundreds of jobs at Co-Op Bank lost? And is the amount of taxes we collect from NBIC today 50% less than what we used to be before they were privatized? Did he not have an obligation to sell the Co-Op Bank to someone who wanted to carry it on as a Bank to employ Guyanese and to pay taxes? Why did Mr. Jagdeo not learn from it, is it because he knew what would happen and did not care, as long as he can show foreign investment this President doesn't seem to care how many citizens in this country loses their jobs or what revenues are lost to the Consolidated Fund, is this anyway for a President to behave? What kind of Economics did he study in Russia?

    Would any citizen in this country vote for someone like this? In his long, long speech of what WILL come, there is not one word of what has been achieved in 12 years that we can identify as real progress nor are we offered an explanation as to why this bankrupt country is being chased down by the World Bank to channel the HIPC money to the poor.

     That's what I see, not the dreamland outlined by Mr. Jagdeo. If GINA had one functioning brain cell in the place they would withdraw this tape from the airwaves in embarrassment and not play it ad nausium since it displays just how much trouble we are really in, with this micro-managing President displaying his ignorance in all of its glory, for us to see.