Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017

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More Hypocrisy
(Aired 23 June 2006)

 

   It continues to amaze me how our President Brarrat Jagdeo continues to be as popular as he is. Clearly we as journalists we have not done our jobs properly in pointing out to the pubic the administrative insanity of doing what he is doing, and getting away with it! .

   Tonight I am going to try to rectify that oversight.

   First of all Jagdeo's popularity comes from the fact that he is continually going around the country sharing out money from the consolidated fund to buy this popularity, more than anything else this is what is contributing to his popularity. Unfortunately a lot of the people who are being bamboozled by this deception will not hear this commentary tonight since they are the poorest ones living in the most remote areas. As to the legality of what he is doing I leave that to the legal eagles but this I do know, if people believe that all they have to do to solve the numerous problems face daily, poor water supply, bad roads, flooding, poor drainage etc. all they have to do is block up the road and burn a few tyres and he will come running with his money bags, then he is creating dangerous precedents for you, since these mini riots gets people hurt, the government and the investor community since these disruptions are bad for business. Competent management and lack of corruption would have prevented the need for such action in the first place, but Jagdeo running in making promises which largely will not be kept and breaking the law by allocating these monies without the consent of the parliament is illegal, deceptive and reprehensible.

    Since he became Minister of Finance 93-94 this President has been in charge of our economic wellbeing. During his tenure as Minister of Finance up to today since after being made President in 1999 Jagdeo continued to be our de facto Minister of Finance he has lead this country, which was experiencing an economic upturn and nearly 9% growth under Hoyte's economic recovery programme, down the tubes to negative growth today. The conclusion is clear despite all of his rhetoric Guyana has faced a reversal of fortunes under his inexperienced, clumsy handling of the economy.

   You will forgive me if it peeves me when I see NCN telling the public that our wonderful, caring President was forced to rush in and give them money so that we can see world cup football on TV, not one member of the public has asked why this was necessary!    

  So let me ask it for you, what has happened to our economic situation when we, the private broadcasters and the local business community, lost the ability to buy the rights to these events; soccer, Cricket etc., without having to resort to the maximum leader having to rush in and put his hands in our pockets i.e. the consolidated fund to pay for them.    The problem is two fold and was caused by the incompetence of the PPP Government and Jagdeo.  

   Part one of the equation has to do with incompetence, Several times in the past I told you that sometimes hard negotiations have to be conducted in these matters by men of strength and stamina and not by wimps; on numerous occasions we the private broadcasters, after being told the price of the rights cost of some event have said to the rights holder, you want 60 thousand US dollars, we cannot afford it we can only pay 20 thousand! Now for this to have effect the rights holder has to believe you, and so you make the offer and hold to your position, even if the football or the cricket starts, you hold your ground; on numerous occasions myself, Rex Mc Kay and Jacob Rambarran have held our ground as to rights costs knowing that the event would probably have to start and when the rights holder sees the people in Guyana protesting because they are not seeing cricket or football and that we are legitimately unable to pay the rights, they will accept the 20 thousand we offered, since according to my calculator 20 thousand dollars is more than zip. But every time we did it the PPP rushed in and bought the rights with your taxes to exclude us. And the reason is simple the PPP is trying to force us out of business. And I am saying it without qualification or apology the PPP wants to put every private Television station out of business in this country and they have been carrying out this agenda a little at a time over the past 10 years, I saw it and I told you it would happen, and it has; today no television station is making any money except perhaps those who play 4 hours of death announcements and birthday greetings a day.

   This is how they did it, first they deliberately allowed too many stations on the air after coming to power and that had the effect of watering down the revenue of the private broadcasters, secondly they started to use money from the consolidated fund i.e. money from your taxes, over one billion dollars of it since coming to power to make NCN TV better than any other station in terms of coverage and propaganda programming production capability, then they allowed this same government station which was also receiving grant aid from China, India, the British and the Japanese to stay in the advertising marketplace and compete unfairly with privately owned stations undercutting them for advertising, the full brutality of this blow to private enterprise came when they merged GTV and GBC and started offering combined packages on radio and on TV to  make competition with them impossible since they hold the monopoly in radio.

    When the PNC marches the PPP goes everywhere crying like babies about how bad the marching is doing the economy, and I have to say this that we the Television Broadcasters in this country have taken our medicine like men and don't come crying to you every week but let me tell you, it has been a bitter dose and I am surprised that you the people who enjoy the work we have done for you over the years have not spoken up for us more loudly. As I said at the beginning, maybe it is our fault by not explaining the situation more clearly before. And I want the international community to listen.

   As if there were not enough pressure from the PPP government and their state owned media their mismanagement of the Guyana economy has put this country in such an economic depression that big companies have closed their doors, and those which are left unless they are laundering money or dealing in drugs are struggling, Sterling Products for example only made 52 million for its investors last year. DDL and Banks are also not doing well either and have cut back on advertising drastically. I don't want to make light of this grave situation but when you get so poor that you can't even afford to buy some liquor to drown your sorrows then you really deh bad. And all businesses are affected; all media workers and advertising agencies are feeling the pressure. The situation is really bad in this country right now and I am not sure if we can bear it.

    So you will excuse me if I get a little peeved when I see the major cause for our increasing poverty Mr. Jagdeo running in like a knight in shining armour to save the day and buy the football rights for us, and since the consolidated fund, our tax money, is paying for these rights why give NCN alone the right to play it and not the other private stations, you understand that if you pay the country rights for GUYANA then any or all stations can play the soccer, you will forgive me if I get a little peeved when this same NCN TV not happy that they already have the rights to play the current cricket series gives priority to the cricket and plays the football late at night or more obscenely interrupts the cricket coverage to play the football as they did yesterday 22nd June, what kind of eye pass is this to you the Guyanese public who are paying for these rights with your taxes? you will forgive me if I hold the view that the PPP are so gung ho to destroy private Broadcasting that that they have taken both the cricket and the football which they cannot play effectively for you, thereby betraying the most fundamental rules of broadcasting which is to function in the public's interest, convenience and necessity just to shaft Vieira and others who criticise them. I resigned from the CBU six years ago because I visualised this day coming. Now I visualise no private TV stations 6 years from now if this continues. If nothing else I have showed that I have vision in these commentaries.

   I don't want the rights for cricket or Soccer now so I am not pleading my case here.

   But you the public must wake up and see who exactly you have voted into power in this country.