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January 1st, 2010

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PNC-R and PPP/C: six of one and four-fifths of the other

August 16th, 2014

In 1992, after 28 years of the PNC rule of Guyana the call for a change in government became an end in in itself. The reason why an electorate comprising hundreds of thousands of persons votes in any particular way – or not vote – will always be complex. Yet, in 1992 there was a feeling that any government would be better than the PNC for which paramountcy of the party, rigged elections and long queues for basic food items had become the defining features. In the circumstances the 1992 elections did produce a change of government with the PPP/C gaining an outright majority of votes and seats in the National Assembly.

Fast-forward to 2014, and 22 years of PPP/C government. For this government, and particularly since Jagdeo became President, the defining issues have been corruption, constitutional violations and failure to hold local government elections. To deduce from this that the two parties are significantly different from each other would be simplistic. In vital areas of democracy and governance their similarities vastly outweigh their differences and in terms of elections the PNC offered rigged elections at the national level while the PPP/C follows a policy of no elections at the local government level.
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Granger’s APNU – conclusion

August 15th, 2014

As a result of the debate sparked by my last posting on the performance of Mr. David Granger as Leader of the Opposition I decided against publishing the second part of that piece whilst the PNC-R’s Congress was in progress. Readers will recall that the column was in response to statements made by Mr. Granger at the press conference marking the third anniversary of the APNU. In the course of that press conference Mr. Granger stated, rather unconvincingly, that despite the serious lack of facilities and resources the APNU’s achievements in three years had surpassed the achievements of the past twenty years.

Before addressing the issue of resources it might be useful to point out that Mr. Granger leads and opposition in the National Assembly that enjoys a majority, a situation that had never existed before in the Guyana Parliament. It might be useful to point out too that even as a minority Leader Mr. Hoyte was able to extract concessions on the Constitution, a matter of grave importance which appears to have received little or no practical attention from the APNU.
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Granger’s APNU

July 19th, 2014

At a recent press conference to mark the third anniversary of the APNU, the major opposition force in the National Assembly, coalition leader Mr. David Granger addressed the unrivalled successes of the APNU in its relative brief existence despite what he lamented as the serious lack of facilities and resources it faces. Mr. Granger, who is also the leader of the PNC-R and of the Opposition in the National Assembly, came to politics after a career in the military of which he also became a historian, and a stint as an entrepreneur and publisher of the Guyana Review. Starting today, I will attempt an analysis of Mr. Granger’s assessment of his coalition and his claim of limited resources.

In his press conference Mr. Granger disagreed with his unidentified or unnamed critics that adequate work has not been done and also disagrees with anyone that the work of the APNU had not been adequate over the last 30 months. In what appears to be a poorly expressed thought Mr. Granger claimed that the APNU had “achieved a lot more than has been achieved in the last 20 years”.

There seems something wrong with the framing of Granger’s statement. It is incongruous for the 20-year period that includes the thirty months of the APNU since elections 2011 to be less successful than those of the three years, unless Mr. Granger is saying that the previous seventeen years produced negative achievements, an indictment of his predecessors President Desmond Hoyte and Robert Corbin who shared that period.

Unfortunately, none of the journalists at the press conference is reported to have asked Mr. Granger to identify either his yardstick for measuring success or to name a couple of those successes. Even if the commentator is able to make his own assessment of the successes it would be futile to second guess Mr. Granger’s yardstick.
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Luncheon reduces Manickchand to a wild animal

July 9th, 2014

Dr Roger Luncheon, Head of the Presidential Secretariat, may have intended to provide cover for and defence of acting Foreign Minister Ms. Priya Manickchand whose toast at the Fourth of July celebration of the Independence of the United States of America, and farewell for its ambassador to Guyana Mr. Brent Hardt has drawn widespread criticism. There have been words like “disgust”, “lacking decorum”, “descent into the gutter”.

But none of these can compare with Dr Luncheon’s “feral blast” which by implication reduces Ms. Manickchand to the level of a wild beast. It is insulting and demeaning for Dr Luncheon to associate any person, and moreso a woman, with such language.

Ms. Manickchand should reject such an association with her, or any action taken by her. I believe that she should have refused to deliver such a “toast” which could only damage the relations between Guyana and United States of America and the public’s perception of her.
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Challenging Statistics

July 7th, 2014

Origin aside, ever since the quotation made famous by Mark Twain, that there are three types of lies – lies, damn lies and statistics – the profession of statistics invariably finds itself under the microscope and the practitioners of the profession having their output continually challenged.

The preliminary report on the Guyana Population and Housing Census 2012 which began in the fourth quarter of 2012 and closed in January 2013 has just been published. The census was conducted as part of a regional effort coordinated by the CARICOM Secretariat and in compliance with the United Nations’ mandate to execute the 2010 Global Round of Censuses.

The two principal criticisms I have heard of the preliminary report relate to a gratuitous comment made by the Chief Statistician about migration and concerns expressed by a number of persons that they could not recall having been enumerated in the census. Data for the years 2004 – 2013 published by the Ministry of Finance and the Bureau of Statistics show official net outward migration of approximately 12,700 persons per annum which accords with my own best estimate using figures published by the Bureau of Statistics from data supplied by the Registrar of Births and Deaths.

The second matter, if true, is serious but for a different reason. Population size feeds into two key economic indicators used for international comparison purposes – per capita GDP and per capita GNP. Age and geographic distribution are useful indicators for planners in education, health and pension policies, in determining the location of schools and medical facilities and estimating the expenditure on pensions.
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