When I entered UG in 1974, one of the popular texts among social science students, especially economics majors, was Jay Mandle, “The Plantation Economy: Population and Economic Changes in Guyana.” The book was completed in 1972 and was compulsory reading at UG. When you read that book and you digest a recent research paper done in March 2016 by Professor Mandle, titled, ‘Creating a Guyana Developmental State,” you want to know what has changed in this country since the sixties.
Here is a quote from the paper; “(Caribbean) economies have not experienced structural change. This is certainly the case in Guyana where the structure of production is not very different from what it was at the time of Independence almost fifty years ago.”
Isn’t that a reality too frightening to contemplate? But I guess most Guyanese with some level of interest in development economics know that we haven’t covered any significant ground since Independence.
Jay Mandle is a sincere friend of the Third World and one of the great left-wing thinkers in American scholarship. He is a prolific writer whose books on political economy and economics should be consulted by CARICOM Prime Ministers. Here is another quote from this learned paper; “Guyana’s ranking on the World Economic Forum global competitive index stood at 121, near the bottom of the 140 countries included in the 2015-16 survey.
“Evidence of Government failure is abundant in the survey. Seven rankings bear directly on Government effectiveness. On each, Guyana is ranked at a very low level. Guyana ranked 104 on “favoritism in decisions of government officials,” 102 on “transparency of government policy making”, 94 on “quality of overall infrastructure,” 93 on “number of procedures to start a business,” 91 on “burden of customs procedures,” 119 on “irregular payments and bribes,” and 113 on the “quality of electricity supply” (World Economic Forum, Global Competitiveness Report 2015-16).
“In short, it is hard to start a business in the country, and once started, firms encounter problems with regard to crime and their power source. They are forced to pay bribes to public officials, and they struggle with poor roads, highways and the port. What all of this means is that Guyana does not possess a developmental state now and that it will be difficult and expensive to construct one in the future.”
The research is indeed depressing but all is not lost. Mandle offers a way out of Guyana’s developmental stagnation. For this reason it would be best if President Granger takes a look at this scholarly piece.
There is a sad section in which he makes the comparison of countries in the Caribbean with other states, including Vietnam and Bangladesh, to show where exports can stimulate development. You read this professor and you wonder if this country isn’t permanently jinxed.
I have observed before in one of these columns of mine that the difference with all previous Guyana Heads and David Granger is the academic background. For me to understand Guyana’s perennial dilemmas and the creation of solutions, a sound social science background in the following areas would be helpful; Caribbean history; political economy; comparative political theories; Third World sociology; development economics; comparative cultural studies, International Relations of small states.
If you look at our previous leaders, all, with the exception of David Granger, lacked that background. Burnham was a lawyer without any training outside of the discipline of law. The same was for Demond Hoyte. Cheddi Jagan was a dentist. We will bypass Mrs. Jagan and the six months of Sam Hinds’s presidency.
I don’t think Bharrat Jagdeo’s training at Patrice Lumumba University equipped him to comprehend the sociological, political and cultural complexities of Guyana.  Ramotar should have been a transformational presidency. He was educated in economics at UG and was exposed to the demons that have haunted and hunted down Guyana since the sixties.
The inherent flaw that killed any attempt at the application of vision in Ramotar was his complete lack of leadership qualities.
We come now to Granger. He holds a Master’s degree. He has books to his credit on Guyanese history, international relations and defence issues. He owned and edited a monthly academic magazine on social issues titled “Guyana Review.”
If a leader with such a background in academic learning cannot act on the research findings of Professor Jay Mandle, then Guyana is certainly doomed. I have left Clive Thomas for the last. Certainly Thomas can guide Granger the way Mandle‘s paper can.
Columnist note:  Professor Mandle told me they were turned away at Office of the President because his wife’s long dress at each side had a short slit. Professor Thomas had to intervene.