This new acquisition is reminiscent of the past

Stabroek News
August 21, 2001

Dear Editor,

I refer to Mr. Kenneth Persaud's letter, [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] "Learning from the past" (SN 08/17/01) in which he mentioned that "those who forget the mistakes of the past are likely to make them again." Mr. Persaud advised that the Burnham-and-Green dictatorship, which ruined Guyana economically and socially, "should not be forgotten, ever."

In order to ensure that we are not repeating the mistakes of the past, we must not only be cognizant of that famous slogan, merely paying lip service to it.

We must be vigilant about current actions that have ominous structural continuities with the painful past that Mr. Persaud referred to. I do not hear Mr. Persaud and other PPP supporters who love to condemn Burnham, and rightly so, protesting the Burnham-like actions of this PPP government. For example, where is the hue and cry about the now infamous plans of the government to acquire Toolsie Persaud's Water street property, a property which Toolsie Persaud said "was intended to be the centerpiece of the company's expansion and diversification plans and could still be if TPL was given the opportunity."

Is not the action of Mr. Jagdeo, who, when rebuffed, runs to parliament to change laws so that he can get his way, reminiscent of Burnhamism and the 'Teemal case'? According to Toolsie Persaud, the President retorted that "the vendors want Toolsie" when asked why the initial GSL bond option was not pursued (SN 08/17/01, "Controversy over Water Street site..."). And Toolsie it has to be, since apparently the possibility of a few votes outweigh economic development. It did not matter that Toolsie Persaud had volunteered "significant financial and material assistance to facilitate the vendors' relocation to a site other than TPL". Furthermore, according to Stabroek News, President Jagdeo has signaled his intention of using this amended law to acquire the land currently housing the Berbice campus even if no agreement was reached with the owners for its release.

PPP's "legal eagle" Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan defended the recently passed constitutional amendment which will facilitate the government take-over of private properties, by saying that all governments have the power of eminent domain, to acquire land for public purposes. Maybe so, but one does not see successful democratic countries doing so arbitrarily. Non-socialist/communist governments do not "forcibly" acquire private lands and do so only as a last resort absent a clear alternative. Acquiring private lands purely for political purposes, mildly stated, should be severely frowned upon and the investment community, local and abroad, should look askance at such actions. Furthermore, in this particular instance, it is clearly uneconomical to do so, adding further to the burden of the poor taxpayers of Guyana, since the government can easily relocate the vendors to properties in Georgetown owned by the government.

Mr. Persaud, and other well meaning Guyanese, would do well to condemn this burgeoning Burnamism.

Yours faithfully,

Dhanpaul Mangru