The Natural Resources Fund can make a real difference for people, but will it?


Dear Editor,

I sit on the balcony of the Paramakatoi guesthouse and gaze out at the majestic Kawa Mountains, the cool breezes blowing over the rugged, harsh terrain. I just spent $2500 for 24 hours of internet access which ended in 17 minutes.

The WhatsApp message that I am able to read stunned me. Our natural resources fund now has an accumulated US$1 billion! I want to celebrate. It must be a good thing, something to celebrate, but in a community where a small Icee soft drink is $400, a small bottle of water $300, no phone service and the only communication with the outside world ranges from 2 $000 for two hours of internet or as they say when available $2500 for 24 hours something seems drastically wrong.

Here in what most people consider the “bush” there are few jobs, you have to farm to be able to eat, to be able to eat for your family. The jobs available are as teachers, nurses, medex or in the regional administration system, so competition is tough and tough. Local stores depend on supplies coming in by air so you can understand the high costs. We complain on the coast but here we can appreciate how much harder life is.

I’m asking about the free internet access for schools that I set up in my other life a few years ago. They explain that it is now slow, more people are using it and no capacity expansion, no maintenance in the past two years. Our consistent failure as a people to build on the good, no matter who did, continues to shock me. The petty and vindictive political decisions that only continue to hurt ordinary Guyanese. Again, the billion US dollars sitting in the fund crosses my mind. Will we see one or the other improve the lives of all Guyanese. Could we at least provide a freer Internet everywhere? A good size solar panel for every household which could provide more life conveniences in some way. Lights at night for children to study, real e-learning a possibility, telemedicine opportunities to improve the health of a people who can only hope they will ‘come to Georgetown’ in the event of an emergency. emergency. A drop of this billion could make the change.

I’m broken. Is this the best we can do for our people? Talk about fanciful million-dollar projects, many of which start without feasibility studies while the majority struggle to find food, water, a roof over their heads and an education for life. next generation. That can’t be the way to go. That can’t be the best we can do.

I think again of the fund and the dirty politics where a privileged few will now decide how we spend our money and not the wide range of representatives that the original legislation mandated. Yes! this is the time of brute force and ignorance.

How long until we can give our teachers, nurses, retirees and all venerable groups a living wage. We didn’t have to give it before, luckily we have it now, but again we just can’t seem to do the right thing. Sprinkle the crumbs and call it a cash grant, divide and conquer when there’s so much better we can do!

With our abundant resources of the past and our new oil and gas wealth, we still fail to do better for our citizens. And the stupid unproductive blame game and the rhetoric of who was 28, 23 or 5 is not enough and highlights our inability to all work together for a better Guyana. How will this madness end?

My mother who passed away used to say “Cath not in my lifetime”. In my youth, my sassy self would reply “mom from hell in my life”. Today I say “Mom, you were right, not in my lifetime either.”

Yours faithfully,

Cathy Hughes


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