Dec 04, 2017
State house, formerly coated in white, is one of nine gazetted national monuments in Guyana that falls under the vested responsibility of the National Trust.
According to career trade unionist and activist, Lincoln Lewis, there is a moral responsibility to speak out about the painting of state properties in any party colours.
He said this practice would have been unacceptable under the People’s National Congress (PNC), the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) and it is under the coalition government of the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC).
“The painting of state properties in the shades of the green and yellow of the coalition cannot be countenanced,” Lewis stated.
According to Lewis, society is cognisant of the clamour for the separation of party and government’s business and this is not without merit.
He stated that the state has to function as a non-partisan unit and all-inclusive as prerequisites for welding the diverse forces together and ensuring the rights and opportunities for all.
Lewis noted that this is a fundamental responsibility of government and in the execution of governance.
He said that the party or group elected to government must govern in the interest of all and recognise that state properties are not theirs but belong to all the people.
When in office, according to Lewis, the governing groups are custodians of the people’s properties and for the period of occupancy they must ensure proper upkeep.
“You cannot desecrate state properties by painting them in partisan colours. These properties are acquired for the benefit of all the people and are maintained with the tax dollars of all the people, which cuts across party lines,” Lewis stated.
The National Trust has stated that approval has not been sought for the repainting of State House and this directly breaches the National Trust Act that makes provision for the preservation of monuments, sites, places and objects of historic interest or national importance.
The Act specifically states that the Trust must approve changes. President Granger stated last week that he is unaware that any law has been broken in repainting State House and had not at the time seen a purported letter sent by the Trust.
Initially when President Granger was asked about the repainting of State House, he chuckled that ‘Guyana was going green’.
“I am not aware that the repair… as you know this building was constructed in 1854, there is a lot of rot, some of the windows were falling off and the decision was taken to repair the rotten portions and to repaint it. I have not received any letter from the national Trust. I am not aware that a law has been broken,” President Granger stated.
The President further urged the National Trust to worry about other ‘collapsing’ buildings across the city, including City Hall.
Lewis stated the presence or absence of law does not make something morally and ethically acceptable. He noted that slavery was once considered legal and remains morally reprehensible and wrong.
“Whether the National Trust Act or any other Act is silent or vocal on the colours a building can be painted, what is more important and must be respected, is the moral and ethical law of neutrality and welding the nation’s people together,” Lewis stated.
WHAT IF PPP/C FOLLOWS?
Lewis noted that the problem is not only seen on buildings and fences, but also furniture as in the case of a school in Victoria, East Coast Demerara where the benches have been painted green and yellow.
He said that Government and their supporters must engage in acts to earn the respect and confidence of the people and the painting programme is divisive and counter-productive.
As the coalition paints the Office of the President, State House and other state buildings in its colours, Lewis said, it needs to take note that the PPP/C has political control of some Regional Democratic Councils, Town Councils and Neighbourhood Democratic Councils.
“Should the PPP/C decide to paint the public properties in the areas with its party colours, the coalition and supporters will condemn the action. This would be the right thing to do, but its application must be across the board, not partisan,” Lewis stated.
He said as the coalition moves to renegotiate the Cummingsburg Accord, the partners must visit the issue and state their position in black and white.
According to Lewis, a green economy or Guyana going green is not about painting the people’s properties in green or only planting trees.
He said a green economy is an economic policy that seeks to pursue development culturally, politically, socially and economically consistent with protection of fundamental rights and freedoms and the environment via sustainable approaches.
He said society awaits Government, in partnership with stakeholders, developing a structured national programme to give effect to this policy.