The People’s National Congress (PNC)-led A Partnership for National Unity/ Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition continues to receive a plethora of mixed reviews about its overall performance and governance of the country since assuming executive office back in May 2015.
Political analyst, Dr David Hinds during an interview with this newspaper said after careful analysis, he is unable to say with a good conscience that the coalition Government has performed exceptionally well since winning those elections.
He said even though there has been no “discernable shift” from the approach of the previous Government as far as the economy is concerned from a large policy stand point, “there is still the over-emphasis on taxation and wooing foreign capital and less investment in local small businesses and in the development of a competitive labour force.”
Dr Hinds explained too that unemployment, which was pegged at 11.5 per cent at the time the last National Housing and Population Census, was done in 2010 and its attends still haunts the society even after the coalition entered office.
“The overall governance score sheet has also been mixed – strong foreign policy management but too many political errors of judgment in domestic affairs,” he reiterated.
Asked specifically about the APNU/AFC’s track record so far in the area of wealth creation for the masses and their socio-economic performance notwithstanding the controversial measures outlined in their budgets, Dr Hinds responded by saying that “a single budget tells you very little about the possibilities for socio-economic progress.”
“… It is unfair to judge a government’s economic ambition on a couple of budgets. What we should pin the Government down on is its overall economic vision – what it wants to do about the systemic economic problems that have long plagued this country. What are the over-all macro and micro strategies for development, inclusive of the lifting of the poor and powerless to a state of sustained survival and security,” he argued.
Hinds, who is a long-standing Executive of the Working People’s Alliance party, which forms part of the ruling coalition, described Government’s decision to downsize and restructure the sugar industry as “commendable” despite the fact that thousands of sugar workers from all walks of life are now unemployed and without any finances to sustain their livelihoods because of the Government’s incoherent policy position on sugar and its dependent industries.
Such a position may not sit well with critics, who believe that the Government acted in bad faith and did not have a plan for handling the concomitant problems that were facing the industry. Other independent critics have also criticised the Government for not following the recommendations that emanated from the Commission of Inquiry report on the state of the industry. These critics saw nothing “commendable” about how the Government sought to tackle the problem because they feel that the economic consequences both short- and long-term will be disastrous.
Tackling the issue of crime and criminality, Dr Hinds said the coalition may need more time to get its act together to address this difficult area.
He said, in essence, the coalition Government which boasts a large number of retired Guyana Defence Force officers and ex-Policemen and women, has been underperforming when one looks at the gravity of the situation.
“It has not done as well as it should in the area of crime prevention and reduction, largely because it has not approached the problem from a systemic standpoint – it has adopted more of an eclectic approach,” he remarked.
But Dr Hinds said he believed the coalition Government has performed creditably compared to other Governments in post-colonial Guyana and the contemporary Anglophone Caribbean despite his criticism.
He also claimed that there have been no wide-scale human rights abuses.
He also expressed concern about the lack of progress on tackling constitutional reform.
“I am concerned that both the Government and the Opposition are making a mockery of constitutional reform. They are treating it as a partisan matter. It must be seen in a much more nationalist way for it to move forward,” he remarked.
Earlier this month, President David Granger was asked to grade the performance of his Administration which is now nearing its three-year mark. He said while the Government had performed well in some sectors and areas, it had not as well as expected in other areas.
“There is still a lot of work to be done,” he remarked. This signals a U-turn from his earlier position that his Government deserved an A-Grade for its performance when he was quizzed on the Public Interest TV show back in February last year.
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