Saturday, January 10, 2009

Request to the President

Dear Excellency,Season Greetings and all the best for 2009.While you have been out travelling the world attempting to sell Guyana’s Forest for cheap dollars, I have had the opportunity to meet with many of our citizens across Guyana and want to share some of their concerns with you in the hope that you will finally realize that it is us the citizens that you serve, not the international community.

1. On the top of their list as you may be aware is the burdensome tax system. They are very concerned that your government created the VAT on Jan 1, 2007, soon after you won the 2006 elections. They were surprised that during your campaign, you never addressed this issue, even though there were numerous calls from many of us to overhaul the tax system and reduce the income taxes on us. Many are wondering if in 2011 prior to elections, the PPP will present a plan to reduce the VAT as an election gimmick.

2. Second on the list was the failure of your government in maintaining the drainage system in our beautiful nation. You have spent $1.7Billion dollars on one main contractor to maintain the system. A better approach would have been to hire 10 people per village with the right equipment to maintain their community drains. That would have created jobs in each village and a culture of pride. In addition, you need to be provided with a new architecture plan of what drains connect what trenches to what outlet. Paying a contractor money to clean a drain that is then blocked by houses or roads, then cleaning another part of the drain over the road without looking under the bridge and realizing that only a small clogged pipe connects the two drains is an exercise in futility. Hiring the local village residents and giving them jobs will have a much greater impact.

3. I visited Berbice and spoke to many of the residents. They, as I am, are very pleased that the Bridge is finally completed. The big issue now is that you cannot just triple the cost to cross the river, it is inhumane. None of the residents as of January 1, 2009, got any increase in their salaries and most of them lost their cash crops with the flood. The farmers will now add that new transportation cost on their products and will have to pass it on to us the consumers. By doing that, it will increase the cost and you the government will now get more money in VAT. This is money rape. In addition, you spent our NIS money to build the bridge, so how come, we have to pay two times for the bridge.

4. Many of the citizens voiced concern with the willy-nilly granting of concession to friends and the access some of them have to government resources through the tender process, such as the BMWs and state properties. We wanted to remind you that those are our properties and every time that is done without a fair market value means the government is stealing from us.

5. In all instances, many were surprised, angry, concerned that fuel prices went down by almost half on the world market, yet GPL and GWI who had increased our rates have so far refused to lower them back to pre-high fuel prices as the minibuses and other private operators were forced to do. Why then did government-owned business not do the same?

6. Some of our staff visited the Amaila Falls, where for the last four years you have talked about the Hydro-Electric Project coming to Guyana. By all engineering accounts, this was the wrong location, as the terrain is not conducive to such a project. As of this date, that project can now be listed as a scam, as concessions and money was given to one company to make this project a reality. You preached for the last year of the building of a Marriott Hotel. You wasted our taxpayers’ money, millions of US dollars, to move sewage pipes, then you had the temerity to tell us that the financial crisis stopped the project in your New Year’s message Marriott Hotel said they have never contemplated approving a franchise in Guyana and the investors had more than a year to get the money prior to the financial crisis and failed.

7. We all complain at the incompetence you have put around you to manage key portfolios. The President of the Private Sector, Mr. Gerry Gouveia recently defended you as a needed micro-manager, stating that many were incompetent to perform their task, therefore you had to takeover. Ministers of the government should be qualified in their field. Wearing of long boots doesn’t mean one understands drainage.

Our hope is that Your Excellency accepts this letter as constructive criticism. It is our hope that you start 2009 with a new passion for our country and focus on projects that will benefit us the people in ways that help us take care of our families.

Projects such as the Road to Brazil need to be started, which would create thousands of jobs for us.

Programs such as hiring residents of each village to maintain the drainage system, and reducing taxes and other levies placed on us in order to increase our spending power, which ultimately as you should know as an economist, will turn the economy over 10 times for every dollar we spend.

Once again, focus on fixing Guyana in 2009 before travelling to the Middle East and other countries over the next few weeks, and allow us to sit with you to work on the projects that will improve the lives of us the citizens. Your legacy can still be defined in your last two years and maybe become “Our Excellency”.

Very Sincerely,
Until next time “Roop”


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