by GHK Lall
Citizens from a few strata of society have been visible and vocal in their disagreements with government on a number of simmering issues. While the underlying substance might be significant on occasion, the thinking and approaches have raised questions. Nevertheless, the result is that government is under continuous scrutiny, sometimes skewered, and altogether pressed for higher standards of accountability and delivery. It is the way things should be.
Having said this, when the circumstances of before are examined, which contributed heavily to so many of the current situational deficits and the associated agitations, there is a hard shudder; many of them. Things are slowly coming to light, with much detail still held closely, but it is unbelievable that elected people and their chosen comrades could be so rapacious with the assets and finances of this poor country; so dismissive of what is lawful; and so ruinous to the minds and welfare of citizens.
Their machinations all revolved around capital. It started with state capital, and inevitably became immersed in dirty capital. There was capital accumulation (plunder); capital protection (dirty money); and capital leverage (criminal alliances), among other capital calculations and arrangements. It is what permeated every field of economic endeavor in this country for a long time. Repeat for emphasis: every field of economic endeavor. This is trouble for the government: it goes against a rip tide, a roaring one. Everybody desires accountability and transparency and responsibility; but that is for others. Check out the loud streets, and then peer into the sectors of private plans and projections.
I have to hand it to the rich men: they were innovative: ranking men received dollars due the treasury and played either the currency markets or the interest rate markets; sometimes both. They gambled recklessly (but profitably) with the taxpayers’ money. Some of those men are gone; the devastating financial detritus remains. The common irresistible denominators were: how to get over, and how to get more. In the dirty financial bazaar of yesterday, ten million for the high flyers was the equivalent of what Guyanese use to call “fine change.” Hundreds of millions exchanged and rearranged to where Guyanese ended up being severely shortchanged became the standing order of the day. It was la dolce vita: no treasury collections, no tax consequences, no revealing books, no available answers. Like Lennon and McCartney, some of the public quarrelers of today long for yesterday. This government is trouble: too much paper, too much probing, too much exposure.
I have to take a step back. Although the enormous presence of the underground economy (including PEPs) was well known, the extent and staggeringly massive scale of its operations is still largely unknown by a great majority of the populace. Amidst the endless constellations of corruption and corrupt comrades, there was never any real economy at work, no honest pricing structure, no legitimate numbers on anything, and no meaningful accruals to the state. As said before, the government is in trouble: it has first to discover, and then reverse all of these gaudy practices. The financial party is over; the hangover is here.
There was uncontrolled partying. Most of the partygoers are still here. They engage now in all manner of political prestidigitation: crafty protests, caustic condemnations, and brassy press conferences; these are among the well-favored and well-financed pastimes making the rounds. While all of this is happening, the genuine working citizens of this land wilt because of those who drained their blood before. This is the political Dracula that stalks around with a shiny face and waxen words these days. Come into my parlor. Come back!
If only thinking voters (a dangerous proposition) in this society were fully aware of the depths of the damage inflicted, (and the steep price that now has to be paid) they would never (never) want to see their betrayers anywhere near to political power. Never again! In many respects, what went on in plain view was a Guyanese financial holocaust. I have been unfortunate to be near greedy people elsewhere, but they pale before the locals. I know a few confidence tricksters, concealment artists, and political vagabonds of the first water; but, again, the locals are in a class of their own.
Editor, there is some familiarity with the English Language. But I confess that there no words and no combination of words to describe thoroughly the immeasurable depredations that visited here before, compliments of the ruling class.
The local paragons should not be trusted with the garbage, even sewage. They would steal it, they would sell it. They are that low. My concerns are that the government is overwhelmed and starched thin; that the expectations are sky high and non-negotiable; that the near fatal harms inflicted during yesteryears are still being assessed and added up; and that the lawless beneficiaries of a criminal era are repositioning and well-positioned to facilitate all kinds of perversities. Some of those perversities march under democratic protections.
However looked at, the cleanup that has started is going to be costly. It already is, and that is only the beginning.