President promoting an unfair stereotype

first_imgPresident Granger this week called Guyanese youth lazy and without ambition; freeloaders. Addressing an Afro-Guyanese audience at BV, East Coast Demerara on Emancipation Day, President Granger castigated his listeners for spending too much time in Guinness Bars, wasting too much time liming at street corners, and not helping themselves.He insulted not only Afro-Guyanese, but all Guyanese. He was promoting an unfair and totally false stereotype that Guyanese youth are lazy, not interested in meaningful employment, and always looking out for a “raise”. Granger’s admonition comes at a time when his Government has proven impotent in tackling growing unemployment, a lack of investment, a failing economy, the financial crisis, and a diminishing hope.The President insisted that our people must endeavour to own “boats, buses and bicycles”. In calling on his audience to own “boats, buses and bicycles”, Granger wants people to help themselves, and not depend on Government for employment.This is a favourite theme of this President. We would recall that, previously, he had called on Guyanese to become entrepreneurs by “selling plantain chips and cook-up”. There is something worrying about the ideas and views of President Granger. He promotes the idea of entrepreneurship, of wealth generation in the villages, communities and towns, of making a living through peasant entrepreneurship. It is business all right, but it is designed to keep people and their families poor and struggling to make ends meet every day.There is nothing wrong in making a living selling plantain chips or cook-up. There is nothing wrong in operating a small business like a milk vendor, who uses his bicycle to sell milk. There is nothing wrong in owning a boat to fish, selling your fish to make a living. There is nothing wrong in owning a small farm, selling vegetables in the market. Thousands of Guyanese families survive by such small-scale entrepreneurship, earning a dignified living. But the truth is that these activities, which once earned people small but meaningful wealth, keep people in today’s society struggling on a daily basis.Few vendors can afford to buy an I-phone, much less a car; and for many, owning their own homes might be impossible. Many persons who own fishing boats struggle to make a living. The Guyanese family that buys a bus and operates a one-bus service to transport passengers barely ekes out a living, spending too many years trying to pay for the bus. The plantain chip and cook-up vendors are not exactly generating wealth that guarantees their families even a low middle-class existence.I do believe that entrepreneurship is worthy of promotion, and that we must, as a nation, encourage local entrepreneurship, small and large, making it possible for as many Guyanese as possible to own their own businesses. These businesses would not only provide a means of wealth generation in our villages and communities, but generate meaningful employment for people.Under the PPP, before 2015, thousands of small businesses were developed, with bottom house manufacturing, village salons, village boutiques etc. Small businesses sprouted throughout the Coastline from Crabwood Creek to Parika; in Linden and throughout the hinterland. Government must encourage these, and ensure that they not only exist, but enable the operators to both make a living and generate wealth. Granger failed to provide assurances that his Government’s policies would enable successful local investment.Small village entrepreneurs in Guyana have, since 2015, suffered because large enterprises like the sugar factories have closed, driving many of the small entrepreneurs out of business, since their customers are now unemployed. Business investment has literally ground to a halt. It is not the youth in Guinness Bars, or those liming at street corners, or those that are unemployed who are responsible for the national malaise that exists today. While castigating poor people, Granger was essentially blaming them for the decline in sugar, bauxite, gold, forestry etc.; for the massive decrease in the international and gold reserves; for the dramatic decline in profits by banks and other large businesses; for the increase in bad loans. Granger’s APNU+AFC has no solution to these troubling realities. The fact is APNU+AFC is standing around waiting for OIL. Some of our young people might indeed be liming at street corners, waiting for a “raise”. But the Granger-led APNU+AFC Government is liming big in luxury offices with luxury salaries, jetting around the world, waiting for a “raise” from oil.last_img

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