Birds of the same feather
Kaieteur News – President is his word. He continues to fulfill his promises. He pledged to be inclusive and, on Tuesday, met with representatives of some of the Opposition’s political parties, many of whom have no real support or have no meaningful constituency.
However, a pledge is a promise and had to be kept, regardless of whether the COVID-19 numbers are rising. Everyone wore masks while sitting at the dinner table, and most likely they would have removed those masks to eat, without having to change positions.
The APNU + AFC was not present and did not deserve to attend. What was sought between March and July 2020 would lead to a permanent exclusion from future involvement in local politics.
Those who voted for a party, who tried to steal the 2020 elections by bedsheet, spreadsheet and then by leaflets, deserve better than the leaders with whom they are saddled. These leaders have the tension to describe President Irfaan Ali’s government as illegal.
The President should not lose any sleep about not meeting the main Opposition. Until they are ready to repent of what has been done, they should not have a place at any negotiating table or negotiate with the government. Every effort should be made to hold them accountable for their actions including requiring the visa restrictions to become permanent bans on travel to the US.
The political parties that attended Tuesday’s meeting can be described as neoliberal. There is a self-declared, non-neoliberal political party, which appears every election season and then disappears afterwards. The party did not appear to have been invited to the meeting. So the President was therefore meeting with parties, which have the same ideological wavelength as his party.
There was no condemnation from any of those parties over the failure of the PPP / C to renegotiate the oil agreements. Neoliberals would find the concept of contract holiness extremely appealing.
There have been no protests over the review process that was initiated and led to the Payara license. There will be no calls for higher royalties and the return of concessions.
These consultations should not be cosmetic. There should be a fixed agenda and it was hoped that agreement would be reached for other meetings at that first meeting. The PPP / C is good at optics and, if the past record is anything to go by, the parties are unlikely to tread at State House for the rest of the year.
The Senior Minister in the Ministry of the Presidency (the country for the first time as Independence has no Finance Minister) was present suggesting an informal Budget consultation. It has been the practice of the PPP / C administration to have these cosmetic consultations so that the Budget can be claimed to have benefited from consultations.
Neoliberalism is consultations. It creates the so-called buy-in policy. One of the policies promoted by neo-liberals is a smaller role for government in the economy. It would be interesting to know how many of those present at that meeting actually proposed cutting the size of government. It costs taxpayers $ 500M a day to keep the public bureaucracy going. No wonder so few are available for capital works.
Neoliberalism also favors less government spending on subsidies, and allows the market to set rates whether it is about the price of goods or wages. Yet many attendees would probably join the private sector to support increases in the income tax threshold, which is simply a measure that allows the government to subsidize pay increases the private sector.
Neoliberals would demand that the government stop overburdening the private sector. Isn’t this what the government does when it undertakes projects on its own such as road construction and repair? State media is a competitor for ads and wants to reach out to the private sector. Isn’t the size of the state media and the attractive salaries, which it offers to woo media personnel from the private media, a sign of overcrowding of the private sector?
Those parties present at Tuesday’s consultations have little to offer. They are all on the same ideological wavelength as the government. They are birds of the same feather.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of this newspaper.)