by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 24 August 2006)
Since judgement day is less than a week away, I thought it would behove of us to formulate a standard by which each party should be judged. Of course the list I lay out today is not exhaustive and will no doubt vary from person to person based on preferences and priorities.
However, the list I present in this column includes important national issues I feel should be included on every voters list. That is to say, these are matters I would take very seriously to a poll booth when determining which party should get my vote.
Economic reform ties for number one on my list with an effective crime strategy. Actually, I believe these two issues to be linked. However, for the sake of clarity and to take care in not minimising either issue, we will examine each one independently, beginning with economic reform.
No party would get my vote if they have not addressed economic reform in some intelligent manner. Since there is not a single party in Guyana that can boast of a positive track record in this regard, we will simply have to rely on each party's economic plan and determine which one is most beneficial to the country and has the best chances of actually being implemented.
This plan should include a stategy for a thriving tourist industry, investment in the farming industry (possibly through exploring the production of ethanol), bringing in foreign investors, providing significant aid to local investors and even exploring new economic ventures such as the technology field to see if there is a place for Guyana in this fast moving and very profitable industry.
Just as high on my voting standard list is an effective crime strategy and the ability and will to implement that strategy. Aside from the need for the people of a nation to be able to make a good life for themselves, the next most important matter is for them to be able to live in an environment free from fear.
No party should get even one vote if they cannot (or will not) rid the country of the drug lords, put an end to those incessant crime sprees, reform the judicial system and restructure the law enforcement system (with agents who have no record of corruption).
Speaking of corruption, it is time for a government that can finally shake the assumed role of corruption for public officials. The people of Guyana do not trust their leaders because corruption is the underlying theme to almost every exchange – be it personal, business or political.
Corruption is just a polite way of saying "Our leaders are misusing the power we gave them or taking our money for their own personal use." The voting booth is the only way to hold those crooked politicians accountable and set a new standard for public officials in the nation.
Of all the neglected and ignored components of Guyana's overall well being, the two most forgotten aspects are the educational system and the nation's infrastructure. These are two facets that had long ago been a source of great pride and today are the source of great shame.
The older generation often talks of those glory days when it was a joy to walk down Main Street and when students from Guyana's schools tested far above their counterparts in other parts of the world. Both of these issues should be at the forefront of your consideration of any party that deserves your vote.
Finally, if a party cannot offer a substantial agenda on women's issues, then it is not the party for Guyana. The nation needs a government who takes women's issues seriously and has an established plan for bridging the gender gap in job accessibility, pay rate, societal awareness of domestic abuse and judicial reform on areas such as rape and domestic abuse. I will speak more on this in my Sunday column.
Judgement day does indeed draw nigh and it is time for the people of Guyana to decide what they want from the next government. Do you want more crime, corruption, poor academic standards and a decrepit infrastructure?
You know how the old saying goes, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."