We have to put the flood behind us and
we have to restart looking at the bigger disaster, the country's economy, and
"the crisis of governance" the World Bank had told us we had, which was
occupying our attention when the flood came and distracted us, I am not
belittling the consequences of the flood in January this year ladies and
gentlemen it cost me personally over 3 million dollars in Quamina street alone,
but the flood has come and gone, the cause of the disastrous results of it
nevertheless remain, incompetence, corruption and greed for power at every
level in the management of our country's affairs which has been and is
We must of course ensure that the
necessary infrastructure to relieve the Lama of high levels of water are
renovated and made functional again, you will note that I say "renovated"
since these structures are there but they were forgotten and left in
disrepair for over 20 years, as a result over 30 people lost their lives and
billons of dollars of your property was lost, because no one made sure that
these important structures and trenches were maintained as they should have
Today the crisis of governance
continues, the government continues to operate as if there is no opposition,
the Communiqué is dead, the country is at a stand still economically and there
is no end in sight.
As I am speaking to you tonight a small
drama is being played out which sums up our entire situation, the ridiculous
nature of our politics, and the madness we call the business environment and I
am not talking about the Prittypaul Singh situation that is an outrage in
itself and I will be looking at it soon, protected by the PPP this man is
operating as if there are no laws in this country and is untouchable, it's
the reason that there is no economic growth, it is the reason that there is no
political or social stability. The situation I am referring to is this, in March
this year the Small Business Act was passed in our Parliament, this act sought
to provide for loan guarantees to small businesses with monies from the Consolidated
fund, not Freedom House ladies and Gentlemen the Consolidated fund to which
Guyanese of all nationalities and all political persuasions contribute, there
are some of you out there, perhaps a lot of you out there, if the World Bank
report is accurate, who do not pay actual taxes but even though you do not pay
taxes every time you buy a Tommy Hilfiger jeans, or a Nikki boots, or a Polo
shirt, you contribute to the economy, every time you ladies go to the hair
Salon you are contributing to the economy since you are using imported
chemicals to do it. The people in this country who pay PAYE contribute to half
of the tax revenue collected every year the other half are from companies but
you the individuals, the civil servants, the police, the army, the public
servants, the nurses, the sugar workers and so on are paying half of the taxes.
You are the real tax payers, not someone you may see building a six story
building somewhere in Georgetown please remember that, you are all contributing
to the consolidated fund, tax collection in this country is very lopsided that
much I can tell you, if I told you what I perceive to be the truth about tax
collection in this country it could start a war in this nation.
But let's get back to this Small
Business Act, this act like every single act the PPP have ever proposed puts
the Minister, in this case Nadir, that paragon of virtue, completely in charge
of selecting the Small Business Council which is the body that will administer
this act and decide who will get these loans, the Council is made up of the
following persons one person from a financial institution which is not a Bank,
one person from the Commercial Banking sector, two persons selected by Nadir
from business disciplines, the chief executive of the body which nominated the
Small Business representative for Bankers?? Two representatives from Nadir's
Ministry and four persons designated by Nadir as small business
representatives, the chairman will of course be chosen by Nadir.
In this Business act, like the Broadcast
Bill and the Amerindian Act before it the word "Minister" appears more times
than the words if, and or but.
Where is the Parliament in nominating
anyone to this Small Business Council? Where are the Opposition representatives
whose members are paying major portions of the taxes in this country? I'll tell
you where they are, they're nowhere! That what's wrong with all of this, the
opposition as represented in this bill do not exist. Now ladies and gentlemen
how did this get through the Parliament without our hearing the Opposition
shouting "Bloody Murder!!?"
But the madness does not end there;
this Council's composition, which was single-handedly selected by Nadir, is
sitting in Jagdeo's office gathering dust awaiting his Excellency's ratification
and signature of Nadir's hand picked Council. Well I don't mind that since this
Council is highly politicised and will not stand up to scrutiny. That is why
there will be no peace, that is why there will be no progress, that is why there
will be no prosperity in this land.
The World Bank's document outlining our
crisis of governance says this and I quote from paragraph 1.24 "Guyana is once more at a tipping point, and could either become "a failed state" or begin
anew the long march to improved governance and economic recovery. The recent
agreements between government and the opposition are encouraging steps.
However, unless they are fully implemented and good governance is put in place,
Guyana's political, social and economic situation could be further
undermined" end quote.
Here in summary are the 5
recommendations that the World Bank makes to put us on the path to good
governance as listed in section 1.25.
Ensure that the agreements entered into, to
resolve the current political deadlock are fully implemented within the given
Implement the local Government reforms the new
constitution calls for.
Take steps to ensure that, by the next general
elections, the elections commission is equipped to conduct free and fair
elections and to count the ballots effectively.
Ensure that members of the National Assembly and
civil Society in general are informed about the commitments being contemplated
or negotiated with donor countries and agencies in order to allow for timely
debate and discussion as is constitutionally required.
Enhance the capability of security services to
take equitable steps to reduce the crime within the society especially at
Buxton which has the potential to derail all that has been achieved in terms of
and gentlemen, tell me how these lofty ideals mesh with a Small Business
Council, passed in the Parliament only two months ago, which does not include
any input whatever from anyone in the opposition in our Parliament which
represents 48 percent of the population of this country.
Tell me if
anyone, other than supporters of the PPP, will get one cent from an entity such
as this Council, which by virtue of the exclusion of opposition representatives
to it cannot ensure that their constituents will benefit from it in any form or
When you have
answered these two questions, then answer this one, how can there be peace in Guyana under these circumstances? Now remember that when the World Bank wrote this analysis
of our situation in March 2003 the dialog between the PNC and the PPP had
restarted as the Communiqué but that also has since failed, so within the
context of this world Bank report we are a filed state since any hope we may
have had then of progress is now gone.