Guyana -Prosperity or Dependency

Travelling to the airport, a young man boasted that he was working for a conglomerate and he was well paid. Never mind that the policies of the government are destroying local industries, the young man, understandably, was concerned about the wage packet he receives weekly.

Guyana -Prosperity or Dependency
Photo : Dool Hanomansingh

Now that our Caribbean conglomerates, the so- called 1%, are in Guyana waiting for the energy windfall, we are going to witness the rapid destruction of many local industries-sugar-rice, lumber, fishing etc. Already, the Granger regime has started dismantling the sugar-cane industry. More than 7,000 sugar-cane workers have been retrenched. Given less than eighteen months the other sections of the sugar industry will be closed.

When Granger came to power his government announced that the rice industry is in the private sector and not his government’s responsibility. Whatever is left of the rice industry is going to be destroyed and replaced by imports. Our 1% already have their suppliers around the world to provide them with the goods. Ware houses and distribution networks are already laid out and business activities are warming up.

Travelling to the airport, a young man boasted that he was working for a conglomerate and he was well paid. Never mind that the policies of the government are destroying local industries, the young man, understandably, was concerned about the wage packet he receives weekly.

Depending on imports to take care of your needs-food, housing, medication, etc must be viewed as immoral and a breach of dharma. In his struggle for India’s independence, Gandhi saw the link between foreign goods, poverty and political domination. The British colonized India to exploit its resources-human and material-and as a market for finished goods. Therefore, it was in the interest of Britain to destroy India’s mills and agriculture and make her dependent.

Guyana, with its abundance of hardwood, has a fledgling lumber industry. In the text books in school we are told that Guyanese hardwood is difficult to harvest because of its “thick undergrowth” whereas in Canada the logs are easily sailed down the rivers to sawmills along their banks.

Not surprisingly, we always believe that imported goods are better. The young lady selling avocado would say with pride: “it’s imported.” Even eddoes from St Vincent has a bigger market in T&T than locally produced eddoes. Currently, an imported banana has our local bananas on the ground panting for breath. It is a knock out! 

I went to Rajan’s office to purchase some balusters and on his walls were picture of Jesus. Driving to my home I encountered a young African male and female, attired in western garb peddling the gospel of Jesus. I think that holding up Jesus as Lord and Saviour is a cry for help! Karl Marx said that ‘religion is the opium of the masses’. I think that he was right. The masses turn to religion as a coping mechanism, that is, to help tolerate the injustices that are happening around. It is like making a final try after all have failed!

Jim Jones was the big white hope for the mostly black congregation he took to the Guyana jungle in the 1970s. These “losers” were looking for someone who can feed, clothe and shelter them while they indulge in shouting Amen! Hallelujah! It is a life of escape, not commitment to a job or responsibility for a family.

The quick fix, get rich mentality in the short term has destroyed our country and in particular our economy. For many, only Jesus can save them! Build roads and box drain, distribute food card and keys to houses! Imagine you are getting keys for a house after filling out a form. With the right party card this is a ticket to heaven!

Why bother about the Mamoral Dam and irrigation and land tenure! A few contracts can be given out to build a few makeshift markets. The vendors get a place, the contractors make some money and the politicians and technocrats enjoy the cutting of ribbons, speeches and the light refreshments (the Minister can have a take away for his wife).

And the young graduate sings along “we don’t have economy of scale for agriculture.” Even the Prime Minister shares that view of our young graduate ‘we don’t have economy of scale.’ We quickly justify why things cannot be done but we know how to enjoy-to shop away: chocolate, alcohol, shoes, bags, cruises etc. In a family house party, the best brands of alcohol: Smirnoff, Absolut Vodka, Johnnie Walker, Jack Daniel’s etc. are displayed. And if your choice is white rum it is hidden and you only get it when you demand it.

The late President of Guyana, Dr Cheddi Jagan captured the spirit of Caribbean people in the following words- “Donkey cart economy and Cadillac taste.” Like sportsmen, drug lords and lotto winners, we are living too fast. The growth we desire and the lifestyle we adopt are not sustainable and we are soon going to crash and crash hard.