By ignoring the coalition government’s total parliamentary record, Dev’s analysis is flawed and the conclusions wrong

Dear Editor,

Ravi Dev, in his two recent letters to SN, has displayed a surprising looseness with facts and a lightness of analysis, given his (deserved) reputation as a man steeped in conceptual and factual knowledge. In the first letter of September 16 (“For the PNC, it’s more about changing the rules of the game to gain power”), he accuses the opposition of being historically indifferent to a “rules-based order”. and constitutional change. Here, Dev, for his part, completely ignored the track record of the Granger administration in bringing to life several reforms from the 1999/2000 constitution reform process that were pending under the PPP before 2015. Examples include : (i) the adoption of local government legislation, the establishment of the Local Government Commission and the holding of two local elections; (ii) measures to increase the autonomy of constitutional and statutory bodies; and (iii) measures to strengthen public accountability and transparency through, for example, the reinstatement of the Integrity Commission and the activation of the Public Procurement Commission. Apart from these reforms at the constitutional level, but no less important, are several high-level Acts of Parliament which sought to enshrine “a rule-based order”.

Take, as a first piece, the UNPA+AFC Natural Resources Fund Act with its strong provisions for withdrawal, oversight, transparency and stakeholder participation. The case is not that the Granger administration can escape blame for its laziness in pursuing yet another constitutional reform bill. My case is that Dev’s analysis is flawed and his conclusions wrong by ignoring the total parliamentary record of the coalition government. Dev’s second letter in SN on September 18, “LAPOP survey suggests vast majority of Guyanese want a strong leader handing out bread,” is even more disappointing. Dev casually talks about ideas such as economic welfare, improving the “lot of the poor” and “bread”. As such, he believes the PPP has the right development plan by focusing on “infrastructure and job creation while releasing a wealth of cash and other material infusions into communities.” But these are not measures of “bread” and economic well-being. Nor are they policies that will produce them in a lasting and systematic way. Appropriate measures and policies must address poverty, inequality, quality of life, decent incomes (not just jobs for the working poor), full employment, lifelong care and social protection. life, the empowerment of women and other criteria taken into account in any modern human development. index.

PPP efforts (as they stand) cannot and will not fully advance Guyana on these development imperatives. Moreover, the country is now in reverse in terms of human development. With the cost of living soaring, purchasing power diminishing and an incompetent government, poverty, inequality and national desperation are on the rise under the PPP. Does Dev dispute this? Can he reasonably dispute the recent survey (January 2022) conducted by The International Republican Institute (IRI), the results of which tell us that around 60% of our young people do not think they have “a bright future”? Does he dispute the findings of the same IRI poll that most Guyanese think the country is pointing in the wrong direction? I remember a comment Dev once made on his CNS CH 6 show: “Even my grandma can spend money better than PPP. I believed Dev then – and I still do.

Dev further argues that the counter to opposing the PPP development plan is to claim that the PPP “is building an ‘unjust state’ in Guyana”. To debunk this politically underhanded turn of Dev, allow me to make two points. First, the opposition is quick to describe cash transfers and other PPP efforts as discriminatory, instinctive, unpredictable and inadequate; they are incapable of ending poverty and inequality and improving the quality of life of households. Guyana will, for example, not achieve any of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (such as ending poverty by 2030) if the PPP stays in government. Second, what does the opposition propose instead? UNPA+AFC has put forward a people-centred national development vision. There are several ideas to unpack here.

In short, first, a people-centred approach is a full life cycle commitment (from womb to grave) to ensure every citizen and family has a decent quality of life. Second, a people-centred approach ensures that all citizens can fully enjoy (not only their political rights) but also their constitutionally guaranteed socio-economic rights and benefits by systematically ending poverty, reducing gap between haves and have-nots, promoting social cohesion and inclusion, and economic empowerment of people. Third, a people-centred approach rejects the trickle-down economics of PPP and other indirect approaches as primary drivers of human development. Fourth, it must ensure that society encourages and fairly rewards hard work, initiative, achievement, sacrifice and investment. Fifth, a people-centred approach must be predictable, structured, holistic, politically blind and treat citizens, their families and communities with dignity. Finally, could Dev explain what is “strong” about President Ali? Is it the arrogance, disdain and misplaced bravado he shows towards ordinary people?

Sincerely,

Sherwood Lowe

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