Stabroek News Letter to the Editor, 26 September 2009. No level playing field
In November 2006 the Jagdeo administration suddenly and arbitrarily withdrew all state advertisements from the privately-owned Stabroek News. Mr Jagdeo, after being persistently press-ed for a reason, explained to a non-believing public that the decision had been made on the grounds of readership and economics.
When President Jagdeo on April 8, 2008, equally suddenly and arbitrarily, announced that he was relaxing the ban, some saw it as the result of the tireless struggle for just such a removal, by the late Editor-in-Chief of Stabroek News, Mr David de Caires and others. Others saw in it, to use an elegant term, a sleight of hand. Among the latter group were those who were aware that the Presi-dent’s friend Dr Bobby Ramroop, already the recipient of improper contracts from the Ministry of Health, was about to set up a newspaper under a package of unlawful concessions for his business which also benefited the newspaper.
That cynicism and suspicion were justified in a most glaring manner last Wednesday when the Ramroop newspaper, the Guyana Times, with a modest circulation, had state advertisements equivalent to those of the Kaieteur News and Stabroek News combined measured in terms of column inches. Undisputedly, these newspapers have a total circulation of approximately ten times that of the Guyana Times.
Of the many implications of this state of affairs, I find the following three most disturbing:
1. The extent to which the President is prepared to give away state resources in the form of government-owned property and taxes to favoured persons.
2. That like the Guyana Chronicle and the NCN, the Guyana Times is being subsidised by taxpayers to promote the partisan interests of the government and the private interests of the same favoured persons.
3. That the PPP/C, a self-described working class party, is prepared to divert the taxes paid by the working class to those who already have.
Instead of those in the private sector and the Private Sector Commission heeding the not too subtle call by President Jagdeo to boycott the Kaieteur News, all Guyanese should be thankful to the Stabroek News and the Kaieteur News for their resoluteness in the face of this increasingly undemocratic and pernicious onslaught.
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