Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Oppositional elements are tearing this country apart for no good reason

Oppositional elements are tearing this country apart for no good reason
The CNS TV suspension has triggered some kind of revival within the PNCR and a few other opposition elements. It’s always good to have an effective opposition; but it is always problematic when the opposition presents a distorted framework in their move to address issues of the day. Their presentation on rising cost of living seems to suggest that the Government of Guyana is totally culpable for the increased food prices.

I am not sure whether the opposition elements are aware of a global food crisis that had its origins in 2002; and where in 2007 alone, global grain prices increased by 42%.

We now know that food costs as a percentage of disposable income have skyrocketed. Nowhere is this clearer than in developing economies where nearly 75% of a person’s disposable income is expended on food.

The World Bank in a recent report concluded that wheat prices increased by 181% within the previous three years, with global food prices escalating by 83%.

And while crude oil price is US$117 per barrel, we need to note that Guyana purchases refined oil, meaning that that Guyana’s cost of oil per barrel is more than US$117.

Some causes for the rising food prices are well documented and now fully in the public domain. These causes include high oil prices; increased world population producing greater demand; limited supply of wheat due to drought; agricultural production, especially corn used to produce bio-fuels; and climate change.

The opposition groupings also should know that this Government has made effective responses to cushion the effects of the rising cost of living; and such cushions are greatly comparable to our CARICOM neighbors. Some cushioning includes an increased zero-rated VAT list; no excise tax on diesel, kerosene, and cooking gas; lifting of the Common External Tariff (CET), the current aggressive campaign to grow more food, and indeed, the Jagdeo Initiative on Agriculture (JIA).

The JIA had its origins from 2002 when President Bharrat Jagdeo wanted help from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), together with CARICOM to transform the status of agriculture in the Caribbean. The JIA is expected to prioritize the Caribbean agricultural sector, in order to reach the level of sustainable development.

And then we have the CNS TV 4-month suspension issue that has attracted wide publicity and titillated the imaginations of the opposition forces and others. Any threat to kill any President of any country is more than serious; and a caller on the CNS TV ‘Voice of the People’ made such a threat. The broadcaster on CNS TV acknowledged the difficulty presented by this caller; and so CNS TV, through this broadcast, violated the conditions of the Licence as well as the law. Yet CNS TV effected three unedited rebroadcasts of this programme; the television station had sufficient time to edit out the ‘threat’; but failed to take corrective action.

Then there was the other charge by some groups that the President should have recused himself from the hearing as he was the aggrieved person. Well, the CNS TV team proceeded to file a court order to prevent Dr. Roger Luncheon, the President’s delegate, from administering the hearing on the ground that Luncheon had no authority to administer such a hearing; the CNS TV team succeeded.

According to the CNS TV team, it also sought a court order earlier to prevent the President and Minister of Communications from administering the hearing; but the court did not make a ruling on that day, as the matter was scheduled for hearing the following week.

And so the President in the presence of the Attorney General heard the Licensee. The Licensee was found to have violated the conditions of his Licence by broadcasting on four occasions content that encouraged the killing of the Head of State. I think it is important to note, too, that the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting (ACB) is a purely advisory body that makes recommendations.

And then we have the usual suspects presenting the usual distortions of the political history of this country. Here are some examples of their distortions: Guyana has no democracy; Guyana is a fragile state; Guyana is a failed state; Guyana has an elected dictatorship; and so on.

Transition to democracy came in 1992 after 24 years of authoritarianism; when no institution made the government accountable to its people; an age of coercion where the People's National Congress' (PNC) rulers saw no limits to their authority, and regulated all social life.

Today, the Guyanese people do experience democracy, albeit a fragile democracy. But if there is no democracy, as some claim, then there is authoritarianism.

If these ‘authoritarian’ things are really part of the woodwork in Guyana, then columnists in the print or electronic media would not be able to dispense their regular opposition and deception; but these ‘opposition’ commentators do spew out their regular diatribe within the ambit of the daily newspapers and the electronic media, without any governmental censure. I do not think a dictatorship would allow the opposition to use the spectrum and the print media in this way.
Wake up Sharma!
What is really going on in Guyana? I just read in the newspaper that the Opposition Leader in the country is saying that Carifesta is going to be affected if something is not done to remedy the Channel 6 suspension matter. I have to ask “What does that issue have to do with Carifesta?”

Is Guyana going to be remembered as a lawless country where people can just break the law and then be as the old folks would say, ‘wrong and strong’?

So, the Opposition Leader is now using Sharma’s story to cause problems for Guyana and its image to other countries. This is really ridiculous!

You know, I have to commend Stabroek News for its cartoon where it is depicting Mr. Sharma as a jackass being ridden by the Opposition Leader and others. I always thought this was the case but could never get the picture right. The cartoonist got it perfectly right. The Opposition Leader definitely does not care about Guyana or Mr. Sharma. Mr. Sharma’s story will now be placed in the book of other stories to be used as the excuse for the Opposition people wanting their way ‘or the highway’. This nonsense has to stop. Mr. Sharma broke the rules and is now paying for it. This is sad because that lady was out of place.

But Sharma cannot see that he is being used all around by the Opposition Leader, by the Mayor, some news media persons, the poor people who only use his programme but don’t vote for him, the callers who only call because that is the only channel where they could call and talk about any trash that comes to their mind, by the lawyers who set him up knowing full well that the President was also the Minister of Information, by Joey Jagan, by the Doctor with the fancy accent who said he would put his life on the line to defend him (we all know this is a lie), by everyone he comes into contact with…and I can go on.

As for Carifesta and whatever is being planned by Guyana’s selfish Opposition, this will only make Guyana look bad. Is this what Guyanese really want?

The Opposition leader and his Party and the others riding Mr. Sharma are simply selfish. Wake up Sharma! Politics is such a dirty game and Mr. Sharma has done a lot for the poor people. I sometimes feel sorry for this man.