The inconsistencies of opposition rhetoric and actions
Regional Chairman of Region 10(Upper Demerara/Upper Berbice), Sharma Solomon, (both names are misleading and incongruous), and the joint Opposition keep lamenting in their perennial efforts to mislead the Guyanese people, that facts are fiction and vice versa, that Linden is being neglected by the PPP/C Government, despite the billions of subsidies in taxpayers’ dollars that have been spent by the same PPP/C Government to keep the bauxite industry viable and bolster the fortunes and welfare of Region 10.History keeps repeating itself and if one were to research its track record, the following would be shown to have been replicated year after year in the PNC’s administration in Region 10 – indeed, in all the communities where they have numerical and administrative leverage; that is, withhold spending on community development to make the Government look bad and give the opposition leverage for criticisms and calls for boycotts and protests – and the general mayhem and carnage; all the destruction, divisiveness and general negativity, which is the only leadership they can provide to their supporters.
A recent headline: “$10M for development projects returned to gov’t by Region 10 officials” says it all in one compact statement.
The article goes on to state, inter alia: “THE People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Region 10 representative, Neil Kumar, told the Guyana Chronicle that some $10M was returned to the treasury by officials in the region. According to him, the monies were earmarked for development projects in the region. Kumar added that other monies are being wasted and there needs to be better financial management by the regional authority.
“Kumar highlighted the fact that the boat that traverses the Berbice River to access some communities has been in a state of disrepair for two years.
“Rather than buy a new engine, monies are being wasted to travel all the way to Parika for repairs!” he said.
The parliamentarian noted that the threat of a shutdown, like other positions taken by the regional authority, has only negative consequences for the region.
He explained that while some people turned out for the protest action, the majority of the businesses that were actually closed were those of Chinese proprietors.
Kumar said, “They (the Chinese) were afraid, so they closed….these threats bring nothing good to the people here.”
Kumar has urged a change of perspectives by the regional authorities, but that is an eventuality that seems hardly likely, given the political opportunism and grandstanding that the joint opposition has been displaying over the years instead of providing productive and responsible leadership.
As a direct contrast, despite the fact that all the indications point to the fact that Lindeners would never generally support the PPP/C administration, with many citizens having supported the opposition in destructive, anti-developmental behaviour, true to the PPP/C promises in its successive manifestos, the Government keeps planning policies, improvising programmes, and implementing projects to constantly improve the lives and enhance the lifestyles of members of Linden; as well as elevate the fortunes of Region 10, as they have been doing for the entire country.
As part of Government’s continuum of booster initiatives, the new Board of Directors for the Linden Enterprise Network (LEN), a private limited liability company, wholly owned by the Government and operating solely in Region 10 to support the creation of viable and competitive enterprises, was officially inaugurated by Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh last Wednesday. The minister said that the installation of the seven-man board represents a significant step in government’s focus of making Linden a more prosperous town. He explained that the goal is to ensure a Linden that has a stronger, diversified economy (less dependent on bauxite) and to do so, not by just facilitating external investors, but by promoting and encouraging within the town, business enterprises by Lindeners themselves.
While explaining that Government’s strategy for Linden involves making the traditional industry,bauxite, as competitive as possible, he indicated that while Government will not give up on bauxite, as it will continue to be an important natural resource that will continue to be harnessed for national development as long as it is possible. Government will simultaneously continue to promote other income-generating and wealth-creating initiatives for the region.
He explained this was why the Linden Economic Advancement Programme (LEAP) was conceptualised and introduced in 2002, and its successor LEN subsequently established, so that the long-term prosperity of Linden not only comes from external investors, but also from economic diversification arising from efforts by Lindeners themselves.
Those two programmes were conceptualised and implemented to advance the region’s infrastructure and reduce unemployment. More importantly, under LEAP, the Linden Economic Advancement Fund (LEAF), a credit facility, was designed to provide small loans for business development in Region 10. According to Minister Singh, under LEAF, 701 loans were granted, totalling in excess of $732M as a means of encouraging and promoting growth in small businesses in agriculture, forestry, hospitality, manufacturing, mining, services and retail trading. Over 3095 jobs were created as a result.
“We remain convinced that micro-enterprise small business development is one of the most efficient ways of increasing lives and livelihoods…this what LEN is all about, not just the lending…but also lending[for the] purpose of small business development,” Minister Singh said.
“It is our government’s hopes that the appointment of a new LEN board will bring with it a re-invigorated micro-enterprise environment in Linden, and a re-invigorated micro-enterprise small business development,” he said.
The intention is that they seek out new business ideas and new borrowers, facilitating their businesses by providing not only finances, but mentorship.
The minister said that whilst he has no doubt that the new board will discharge this important mandate, he pointed out that ultimately the success of LEN will depend on the borrowers and the community. He noted that regrettably, over $300M of the monies that were lent under LEAP has not been repaid, and urged that those in default bring themselves in order, and repay the loans so that they can benefit from a repeat loan under LEN, and so that the rest of Linden are also not denied aopportunities to borrow.
As the minister indicated, Lindeners themselves will be responsible for the success or failure of Government’s initiatives to improve their lives, individually, and their region, generally; and shutting down businesses, burning and looting, destroying their infrastructure, etcetera, would only drive away investors and de-motivate really caring officials.
We are a developing country – emerging from a history of a plethora of destructive elemental forces that devastated our nation, even to the point where even the more optimistic thought that we would never emerge from the quagmire in which we had been immersed for decades – to the eventuality where even the more altruistic funding agencies had practically written us off as almost beyond redemption, but today we are “…the only shining stars of the Caribbean;” and Lindeners need to decide whether they are going to join the dynamic bus leading to a peaceful, progressive and prosperous nation; or remain on a derelict vehicle that continues to take them on a journey leading to their own retrogression and destruction.