OPINION: Investment and return on investment in politics

Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 June 2024, 18:49 by Writer

By GHK Lall

Give something to get something. When all the textbooks are written, lectures and dissertations delivered, this is what an investment is all about. Of course, it has much more to its DNA, but at a fundamental level, an investment is gambling to get a handsome return. Bigger is better. I look at this today, not from the context of commerce, but that of politics.

What is a political contribution, a party donation, a campaign funding, if not an investment in the hope of a sweet return? The only objective of these writings is to make my brethren (sisters are certainly included) think. Think, people, think. I could have made a statement that, at the crux of it, would have been inarguable and stood unchallenged, when all the clamoring was over. A question was decided upon, then asked. In the context of Guyana’s politics, I shall speak of no law about campaign financing, or of the EU report in the dying days of the stormy 2020 elections. I shall highlight reality. And expectations. And then the resulting government actions. The resulting has now become the consequential at a national level, and how…

A dollar is given, and a dime is anticipated from a winner. A dozen dimes are even better, will be grabbed with both hands. And, sometimes, when those are not forthcoming, they will be seized. Of course, there is the law, and the highest regard for it. But by whom, if not dumb suckers. People like me, and a cohort of little Guyanese. The law has its reach and its application. Translation: it has its people who have been vaccinated. It works. But, then again, only for a time. The arc of history is long, but it always bends towards justice. Apologies are in order; some rushing spirit took over for a moment.

What about when it is a million dollars donated, and not a dollar? Or, a hundred (or two, or three, maybe even four or five) million contributed to the war chest of a political party? My fellow citizens – Guyanese and American – donations and contributions and financing of that magnitude speak their own language, and at a very high volume. Amounts like those are not a song, they are a symphony that the recipient had best not forget. In practical terms, a hundred million or four, buy a lot of open doors, a barrage of fallen regulations, a cadre of leaders and ministers and institutions and institutional heads to march to that music. Is some Guyanese reading this thinking of carnival and bacchanal? It is what it was until the dreadful Americans came with their OFAC horrors. The music stops then, and everybody is wringing their hands and weeping tears of remorse. Does every Guyanese see what I see? I see a school of crocodiles; there are those kinds of tears.

When regulations are torn down, institutions are made fun of, and leaders pretend to be truer than me to this country (a difficult undertaking), then Guyanese learn a different language. That of OFAC. That of Excellency Theriot. And that of the rule of law. Laughter is a good tonic. Somebody thinks and takes Guyanese for donkeys crossed with mules, with the spawn being a cross-eyed lunatic. Is not this what did happen? It is what will make a comeback, when the kettle stops whistling. Now everybody is an anti-money launderer; everyone is about what is right and justice, but they forgot something. When yuh tek peeple monee, den deh gah dah ting call payback. And when the cash is a full container truck, the payback must be bigger. Budgetary considerations. Remember infrastructure and capital expenditures? Somebody must build those. Then I come to the juiciest part of the curry and cook-up: contracts awarded. This is how the budget money and the oil money and loan money are redistributed in reverse fashion. The poor man gets his $25 grand, while the real people have a grand time. Billions. Billions for anything that pleases them. There is always a leader or a minister (or a PS) running forward, and lining up: Reporting for duty, sir. Ready and able (and willing) sir! Whatever is required, whatever it takes. Now I call that servanthood, and I am left in the dust. I must join that extraordinary investment club. My fellow Guyanese, this is how investment works in government circles. I don’t care if it is PPP Government or PNC. A little aside: during my public service tenure I made sure that one thing was repeated: anybody who had a problem with me, must feel free to escalate all the way to the head of state. I know where the door is, and nobody has to whisper to me or push me. In other words, there is only one sentence of two words: the first begins with an ‘f’. For sure, investment of capital (campaign money) talks. But I have my own language with its own speech patterns and strengths. Whether PPP diehard or PNC fanatic, this is what I was and am, and which I have tirelessly worked to introduce to President Ali and Vice President Jagdeo and Opposition Leader Norton. Slander and spite became my rewards. I persevere because that is owed to my brothers.

Last, the Americans spoke of a network, not of lone rangers and mavericks. Take it from this humble source: the Guyana network is sprawling. It is not three. Count to 300, and there is still some counting left to do. The focus has been on a man and his son. There are their political sponsors, their governmental fathers. Investments snare the fickle and the fraudulent. So, they must pay (back). So, the Americans have their say. This is my investment to Guyana, whatever the malevolent reward.