By GHK Lall
It is not much, but it is worth digesting and cherishing for what it represents, of where it has brought us from, and to where we can be taken. I am cautiously encouraged. I am encouraged by the report card that came, compliments of Transparency International, on what and how Guyana did for last year on its scale of scrutiny.
According to Stabroek News (January 23) it is our “best ever score.” I wish that we can say the same thing about so many other things here. That this will be our best ever elections campaign relative to the conduct by all, that it will be our best ever (received, accepted, and conceded) result, without resorting to the quagmire and crippling realities embedded in disputes over lists and all the other subterfuges, which can be summoned at will for every specious objectives, of which there is only one: power, and that it will be our best ever aftermath in terms of receptivity in society and governance of this country. In spite of my occasional fulminations, when repeatedly and extensively disgusted, I still harbor slivers of hope. Perhaps, I shouldn’t, but I do. For if I/we don’t have that, then what have we…?
I gather from the report that we barely moved. Yet to inch forward by that scanty fraction required yeoman effort and sustained dedication to the visions that we can get somewhere, if there is the will and the men and women with the requisite character and drive to take us there. I am familiar with some of the handful that have contributed to moving mountains to move the centimeters involved in that single-digit progression along the chart of analysis and assessment. To be counted at 85 out of 180 is not stellar; still it has to be satisfying that there is recognition, no matter how sparse, for the aggregate energies channeled into the endeavors that brought to this place.
It is a laudatory place: this perch shared by Guyana with others, where “In the last eight years, only 22 countries significantly improved their scores.” Guyana and the Guyanese responsible for making this possible are due a word of thanks, maybe a little more. I dare to place a commendation or two on the table before President Granger. It is for him.
But even as I do so, I remind His Excellency how much more could have been done and gained if only he had in his political and leadership and party neighborhoods, people who are of a mindset and thrust like himself. People who are clean. People who are not about accumulation of the prizes of power. People who are conscious and conscientious about Guyana’s reputation—the reputation of us, me and you—before the gaze and measuring rods of the world, wherever they may be, and whomever do the measuring and evaluating.
To look ahead, I think we can do much better, we have the potential post March 2nd to record even greater progress, more rapid progress, through registering still better and a more inspiring trajectory along the processes and heat maps used by Transparency International and its equivalents. I remind our political leaders – old and new – that this will not come from syrupy speeches that project the best of everything, but mean absolutely nothing about what is prudent, what is principled, and what is really intended in the mind and heart. For if the intentions are to deceive, then only the rotten fruits of that will flourish, which will drag us down.
And drag us down they will, unless we are strong and resolute (ethical and patriotic, too) when and where it counts. It counts currently, as in right now. For as the Hon. Minister of Finance was noted as saying in a Reuters report from Thursday of last week, “Bankers ‘bombard’ Guyana with financing plans as oil boom begins.” They will bombard, not only with financing plans, but also with sweet schemes that are guaranteed to make the heart leap with greed, mind race over personal possibilities, and mouth water in the savoring of the imagined made real and near. Those schemes will be endlessly intriguing and enticing on a personal level. I know of this, as I was near to those plans and schemes for all of two decades. It is an all-out race among ferocious competitors to land lavish business; the art of the deal, it is called. And there has to be great care around that far-reaching word, and particularly here in this place named Guyana, given the history of the political people that we have had. Like I said: I have seen it; listen to the plans to attract, engage, and recruit willing partners, and last the efforts made to paper over the sordid trails. Danger looms.
I articulate all of this, as we mutedly observe (not necessarily celebrate) the Transparency International news. I think we can go higher, much higher, but only if we are about the unselfish and the inclusive at every level and to the greatest degree possible. With the right people acting in the right way, it could be a breakout year – indeed, era – for Guyana, if we commit to doing this thing right, and actually do. If not, the oil will break us into so many countless and sorrier pieces than we have been, and to the point where none would be able to identify us, much less applaud us. May it not be that way.
Mr. GHK Lall is a Guyanese author, columnist and former financial analyst on Wall Street.