Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Wednesday Ramblings-Unreleased Inflation Figures Watch: Day 111

Wednesday Ramblings
Stabroek News, Feature Wednesday June 4, 2008

Unreleased Inflation Figures Watch: Day 111
We never realised until last week that the real problem with parliament was not the actual lack of genuine debate, nor its rubber stamp role; its lethargy in passing important bills contrasted with its indecent haste in ramming through others - the Casino Gambling legislation; its utter subservience to the executive; indeed its irrelevance and almost zero contribution to the betterment of the nation; and most egregious its routine snarling of downtown traffic.
These issues are not at the core of the parliamentary crisis in Guyana. No, it is after all “poor coverage of proceedings by the press”. Gosh darn it we really should have known that all along. Let’s get a hammer and hit ourselves in the head for being so freakin’ dumb.
At the recent total-waste-of-time-and-money- but-Guyana’s-not-paying-for-it-so-it’s-ok Commonwealth Parliamentary Association-sponsored parliament and media workshop, MPs “pounded away at the lack of knowledge of journalists in parliamentary procedures and lack of understanding of the issues debated in the House”. They just love to pound away don’t they?
Be it the desks or the snacks. Poor Dennis Chabrol had to come to the defence of his colleagues against this united barrage. Budgets, training blah blah….you should have told them just to shove it, friend.
Publicity seekers like PPP MP Norman Whittaker whined like babies for lack of coverage of their speeches – even that complaint was a waste of ink, we can be sure. And while the PNC MPs were schmoozing with Baroness Amos, expressing deep thoughts and generally trying to appear “respectable”, it’s worth recalling that the last time parliament convened, they chose to boycott the session while some joined supporters who burnt the President in effigy.

What can be unanimously proposed is that the fourth estate in this country really is the whipping boy for both parties when it should be the other way around. Oh and let’s not neglect to mention the shameless da Silva who still does not have the decency to apologise to award winning journalist Judy Fitzpatrick. Heck let’s just thank the media for bringing the country together.
Perhaps this should be our new role. After all both parties can agree that the Stabroek News is “biased” against them. It’s become a rather worn out badge of honour. The truth is that it is this newspaper which occupies the centre in this country. It speaks to reason, to compromise, to common decency and to the few remaining sane people who know better.

Then again SN could actually be the one at fault for everything: “PPP/C, PNC jointly pin blame on Stabroek News for 15 years of slow growth, rampant crime and corruption, mass exodus of skills.” Not that far fetched a headline. If only this newspaper would shut down then Guyana would reach its true potential.
According to the new THAG Head, it’s the media’s sensational coverage of crime that is keeping tourists away. Gosh darn it (again), if only the media could ignore the slaughtering, raping, acid dousing of its own citizens, then the tourists would come in droves…to be mugged. This idea that domestic problems should be swept under a carpet so as to show a good face to visitors is a deeply troubling mentality. Shacks on the embankment road were hidden by billboards when the Commonwealth ministers came to town last year.
We saw it emerge full force during the Cricket World Cup, when people were given cheap paint to spruce up their homes…only on the East Bank. And then when the event was underway, the water in the city was for a time not drinkable even once boiled.
And how sad to still see those bumper stickers, “Lash it in de bin cricket comin” and to realise that people don’t have a reason not to litter any more. Don’t worry Carifesta comin’ and we can expect more of the same.

A doozy of a letter
That letter by Ms Singh in Friday’s SN was a doozy. Oh my…“The government can afford to lose $3.2 billion of the excess VAT and excise taxes that it collected on the working class which in the first place paid those taxes. This is a strange Marxist perspective which sees the loss to the government but not the hardship faced by the working class which Marx considered as the most important of the productive forces.
“What the good doctor is missing is that the revenue which he seems to want to cling to belongs to the people of Guyana. It is their taxes.
The government is just the custodian of the taxes to spend as it sees fit in the people’s interest.“ Sweeet. Someone turn that into a billboard.
What an extraordinary concept for a government that only last week issued a press release lamenting the loss of millions from a reduction of the gas tax: they did not point out that the huge increase in the price of gasoline would almost compensate in revenues for the ten percent reduction. Neither did they mention the huge savings they now gain by buying on low interest credit from Venezuela.
Do we see a press release hailing the increase in government revenues from gold sales given the price has gone from $271 per oz in 2001 to over $900?
And let’s just put on the record President Jagdeo’s pledge in December 2006: “We said from the very beginning that VAT should be revenue neutral. We’re not looking to increase taxes with the collection of this tax.”
Well, give it all back.

When will the Bureau of Statistics release the Consumer Price Index figures for the first three months of 2008? It is clear that the data has been collected and collated and the numbers are on someone’s desk. So why the delay? This is activity paid for by taxpayers and which provides information that is vital to business and to the public.
It is criminal that these figures are being hidden.

Question of the week
Heck, Fineman is no longer on the front page of the Chronic. That’s how urgent is the hunt for Guyana’s “Kind of Most Wanted”.
How long before he is sent to the classifieds? “Wanted: one criminal, 2br, last seen in Buxton, Friendship, good yard space $50M, negotiable.”

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