– remind President of role in creating enabling environment for successPresident David Granger’s speech last week at Beterverwagting, East Coast Demerara (ECD) castigating persons for not seeking betterment for themselves is not sitting well with political thinkers, with at least two of them tackling the matter head on in simultaneous columns.Working People’s Alliance (WPA) heavyweight and political commentator, Dr David Hinds reminded the President in his column “Hinds sight” that he was voted into office, most likely by the very people he rebuked, to set policies that would help persons to help themselves. Instead, Hinds noted that Granger’s message was “go help yourself”, without identifying policies that would bring economic benefit.“No, Mr President, that is not right or fair or just. We have to go back to these veryPresident David Grangerpeople in 2020 and ask for their votes. You, Mr President, have the power to make a difference in the lives of those poor Black people. Having rebuked them, you promised them no big policy to help them own the “boats, buses and bicycles” you urged them to aspire to. Where are they going to get the loans or start-up capital from, for example?“Some of them put down the bottle and the hustle, stopped liming and voted for him and the coalition in May 2015. Many of them voted for us, because they wanted an opportunity to do better. President Granger and the coalition promised them that if we won power, we would help them. Now that we have the power, we seem to be telling them ‘go help yourselves,” Dr Hinds observed.Dr Hinds noted the importance of avoiding the perception that one was talking down to a community and pointed out that Granger, a successful man, may have exuded an anti-poor perception with his message.“Mr President, your brilliant career as a military man came because of Government investment in you and your generation. Now that you hold the reins of Government, you should do the same for the present generation – invest in them. Rebuke them, but when you are done, tell them what your government will do to help them to do better. Government policy is not hand-out –it is part of what Government was created for.”“There is no country in the world where the descendants of the enslaved liftedVeteran trade unionist Lincoln Lewisthemselves without the deliberate intervention of Government. Even the most stubborn of them, the USA, saw it fit to enact an affirmative action policy. It is my considered view that the bad habits which the President correctly identified and criticised would decrease if and when his government put in place policies that target the structural problems of the black community.”Besides this, Hinds also drew attention to the apparent intolerance for criticism by the Government. He cited the example of both he and Lincoln Lewis being removed from their posts as columnists for the State paper, and pointed to the irony of the President now coming to critique communities.ResponsibilityLewis, a veteran trade unionist, took an even harder line in his criticism of Granger’s speech in his “Eye on Guyana” column titled “Govt must not rebuke when govt taketh away, deprives or denies its citizens”.According to Lewis in his column, the National Development Strategy (NDS) of former President Dr Cheddi Jagan was one of the last efforts to push for a strategy for the betterment of the people, with a consultative buy-in.“For subsequent leaders to castigate citizens for their failure to put in place mechanisms for ensuring productive endeavours can be considered dereliction of duties. This nation’s President has Executive responsibility, that is day-to-day responsibility for the citizens’ welfare, which includes the realisation of a programme to address deficiencies in every community and across every demographic.“Inherent in this must be a plan of action, which includes a strategy to bring peopleWPA heavyweight, Dr David Hindson board.An idea in the head and telling people to buy into it without putting structures in place that can facilitate their involvement will see no transformation,” he said.Lewis stressed that Government must lead a concerted national effort to correct systemic discrimination in the system. The trade unionist pointed to the Government’s refusal to re-establish the Ministry of Labour as backward, since it was seen as a working-class Ministry and could lead the effort in developing a national plan to alleviate unemployment.“Correcting these challenges require Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Laws buttressed by public education and enforcement. And it is Government’s responsibility to do this. The talk that citizens must get prepared to capitalise on oil and gas – as though these will be the panacea to end all problems and create all opportunities – remains just that.“Talks are yet to be buttressed with a National Programme as to what is required to productively participate. We still don’t know what skill sets are needed, how these will be acquired, and Government’s role in making it possible for local labour. There is high youth unemployment and no national plan to alleviate it, either through employment or self-employed opportunities.”The Head of State made the speech while addressing residents at Beterverwagting on Tuesday evening, at a Cultural Evening hosted to commemorate the 180th Anniversary of the Abolition of Slavery.President Granger said that even though he could have the profits and benefits from oil production equitably shared, it was up to citizens to empower themselves to take advantage of the opportunities that would become available.
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