The Economic Recovery Programme based on IMF conditionalities always leads to some marginalisation

Stabroek News
March 30, 2001

Dear Editor,

I tuned in to Channel 9 last night just in time to hear Dr Waldron say "Mark." His tone was such that I looked up to see if there was a halo hovering above his head. I expected objectivity, balance and at least some level of condemnation for what was going on in the streets. There was none.

He said repeatedly that it was a good time for President Bharrat Jagdeo to reach out to the Afro-Guyanese. In fact this is just what the young president stated. The president stated pellucidly that his very first act was to call in the opposition to commence dialogue. Does Waldron believe that burning and blocking the roads and bullying people and generally disrupting the lives of our people is the way to convince the president to have dialogue? If the party that won the elections were to do so on the basis of bullyism, do you think this will breed goodwill between the races.

Mr Waldron I suggest you have ceased to be objective. If you were to speak as a Guyanese not as an Afro-Guyanese you will definitely take consideration of certain facts and so reassess your seeming support of the present orchestrated behaviour. You will also decide whether the issue is better conditions for the people in the streets, or simply an unwillingness for them to accept a non Black as the president of this country.

The very nature of the Economic Recovery Programme that was imposed on the beggar nation of Guyana would result in the marginalisation of large sections of our population. Any research into the working of the IMF solutions would inform you that the conditionalities could lead and have very often led to social disorder for the medicine by nature, benefits those who have, with a promise for it to trickle down to those at the bottom.

If the marginalisation of the Afro-Guyanese and the poverty they are facing is why they are in the streets, then pray tell me why, when the budget of 1989 rained blows upon blows on the working people of this country and bauxite and sugar workers went instantly into a strike lasting six weeks there was no social disorder as there is today.

I call upon him to read the Mc Intrye report, he would find that under the PNC's administration this country was made poorer than Haiti. He would find that according to the report the last ten years of the PNC administration saw the purchasing value of the workers wages falling by 50%. He would also learn that there was no public accountability of the taxpayers money for nine years, seven of which were under the Hoyte administration.

The World Bank report stated that in 1990, 46% of the households in Guyana were in deep poverty. Also Mr Waldron, when the PNC administration signed the IMF agreement they signed for a measly 8% for the public servants.

Search your memory, Mr Waldron, were there any protests? Were there any beatings of people in the streets of Georgetown? Did you write a letter or go on television and protest that your people were being marginalised and led into poverty?

I am not suggesting that the PPP administration is beyond criticism, however I find it strange that you do not recognise and condemn the blatant and crude rigging of the 1985 elections by the PNC. That administration went as far as to beat opposition counting agents in and out of the counting places.

It would seem that in general the Afro-Guyanese who were in a position to benefit were prepared to remain silent while these burdens were breaking the backs of both the Afro and Indo Guyanese working class. It would also seem that in general the Afro-Guyanese workers were willing to accept the burdens as long as an Afro-Guyanese president was in power.

I am in agreement that there is a need for serious dialogue between those who have the well being of the Afro-Guyanese at heart and the present administration. But can this be meaningful and effective when there is social disorder.

Could Dr Waldron advance some reason why the opposition and the marginalised could not have waited to deal with the issues institutionally? They have taken the election matter to the court. Could Mr Waldron say whether it would have been better if they had remained calm and allowed the court to carry out its function instead of blocking the court?

Yours faithfully,

Rajendra Bisessar