The government has not facilitated entrepreneurs
January 16, 2004
Please allow me to congratulate you for the very incisive editorial "Developing a business culture" which appeared on January 8, 2004. I would like to give my countenance to the added emphasis on "more reporting on business matters and on the culture of a market economy" because it has always been my conviction that only an awareness achieved through much inquiry and discussion will ignite revolutionary tendencies in Guyana.
However, I feel that in the thrust to appear impartial, the editorial has allowed itself to contain a serious shortfall. The editorial states "In brief, there has been some new investment since 1990 but that economic take off the more optimistic had hoped for after years of stagnation, especially with the return to free elections in 1992 and the anticipated 'democratic dividend' has never materialised. There has been no take off nor is there an immediate prospect of one."
There is a conspicuous neglect of thought with regards to the root cause of this. The root cause of Guyana's economic stagnation in recent times has to be a government of incompetence, ignorance and corruption, a government by a band of men and women who are the very antipodes of all notions of development in the modern world, and whose continued reign increasingly suggests that Guyana's coup de grace is imminent.
With the conclusion of the Cold War and with the birth of such movements as Globalization and Trade Liberalization, it has become quite clear that modern capitalism has been accepted as the mode of development. I will divert a little by saying that although capitalism is the accepted mode, I feel the critiques of both Marxian and Fabian socialism should also be accepted in tempering the excesses of capital, the excesses that we have seen occur from the First Industrial Revolution. The policies that Guyana will have to pursue will have to be dictated by that particular stage in the capitalist evolution that we are in at present which is the embryonic stage. Equipped with this knowledge, it will become very clear that as Europe and America did when they were in this stage of the evolution, Guyana will have to pursue its industrialization by means of local investment. This does not mean that any policy of aggression should be adopted against foreign investment, but because of where we are in the capitalist evolution, our long term prospects or our economic salvation lies much more in the stimulation of local investment. Stimulating increased production through primarily local investment as Jean Baptiste Colbert had taught is dependent upon encouraging the emergence of the entrepreneurial class. The Government's role in this direction is that of a facilitator, ensuring that the necessary elements of physical and social infrastructure are in place to encourage the burgeoning of entrepreneurialism. Much work has to be done to encourage Guyana's Diaspora community to think of resettling in their homeland with their capital. This PPP administration has failed in its role as such a facilitator.
Many concrete cases can be cited in understanding why entrepreneurialism is choked in our country. 1. Basic security cannot be guaranteed to young and burgeoning business people and their families. Entrepreneurs in Guyana live in fear and angst and many are on the verge of migrating because of the PPP's ineptitude in dealing with the issue of crime.
Many such individuals have been traditional supporters of the PPP. 2. In the case of the agricultural sector, in which we should enjoy some amount of comparative advantage, this Government has been unable after 11 years in office to guarantee farmers on the coast a reliable system of drainage and irrigation. There are many entrepreneurs who are profoundly ambitious about the cultivation of land but without the guarantee of an indispensable element of production, how can they approach their business with any amount of sanguinity? Also this PPP administration has been unable, primarily in my view because of neglect, to assist in the securing of overseas markets for these entrepreneurs, who have always supported the PPP. The PPP's attitude towards entrepreneurialism has been characterized by neglect and contempt.
To augment the facilitation of the entrepreneurial class, a Government in a now emerging capitalist State also must be able to provide a skilled labour force. This administration has been unable to abate the uncontrolled wave of emigration that has tripped our country into a state of human resource paralysis. The ruling party has demonstrated to the populace that it is not capable of igniting any development in an emerging capitalist context. First, there is the failure to bring political stability to our land which in turn is a failure to deal with the issue of ethnic insecurity: the root cause of Guyana's stagnation. The predicament of ethnic insecurity cannot be dealt with in the obscurantist and propagandist manner that the PPP and their advisers have chosen. Only an adjustment to the mode of governance will be able to address the issue of ethnic insecurity.
In an effort to stimulate some thinking among the supporters of the PPP, I encourage them to let your thought be real. John Mac Murray in his book Freedom in the Modern World makes the following point about real thought: "Real thought is marked by its readiness to change its mind as the increase of experience reveals its inadequacy. Unreal thought is far more fixed and self consistent. It refuses to admit that it can be wrong; it twists and ignores the evidence that is forced upon it. All its consistency and stability is only proof that it is dead, not that it is true."