Saturday, October 21, 2006

Stella dissing the old faces - Peeping Tom

Here is fellow Kaieteur News Columnist, Peeping Tom, response to my column Stella Says…Out with the old faces, in with the new faces :
Stella dissing the old faces - Peeping Tom

Stella has joined the PPP bandwagon in questioning the freshness of the political movement, the Alliance for Change. The PPP had described the AFC leadership as ‘political rejects”; Stella has now christened them as recyclable statespersons merging together to form a new party of old faces.

Stella has been liberal in her irreverence against the Alliance for Change. She can be excused for her views about the need for new faces.

What Guyana needs is not new faces alone but new faces with fresh ideas. I was very disappointed for example when reading an interview this newspaper did with the new Minister of Finance wherein he outlined that stabilisation of the macroeconomic environment is one of his top priorities to allow for investment and economic development.

Over the past eight years, all that has been preached by the Jagdeo administration is the need for macroeconomic stabilisation. All that we have been told about the government achievements in the economic realm is about the macroeconomic stability. Yet while the government boasts about this stability, it can point to only a palpable record in terms of economic growth and investment.

Stella of course has not identified what are the missing elements that would allow for macroeconomic stabilisation to be converted to economic growth and prosperity but I am sure that if she did, she would point to the need for vision and leadership and when it comes to identifying the “new faces” that can provide such leadership and vision, she would not have to look very far in her family when it comes to selecting the best candidate for the job.

Fortunately, most of us know that it takes more than billboards to identify the future generation of leaders. Both of the main political parties in fact have begun the process of proving exposure to a new crop of political leaders as is clearly evident in the candidates on their respective lists.

The PPP has appointed an impressive list of persons to the new Cabinet and during the election campaign gave exposure to a number of new leaders. The PNCR, though limited by the number of seats that it secured in the last elections and the gender requirements that have to be met for the names of its candidates extracted for appointment as parliamentarians, has actually managed to bring together an interesting blend of the new along with the experience of some of its older heads.

I am not as keen to see the experienced hands disappear as I am to see the resignation of leaders who prop up only in Guyana at election time; leaders who know more about image than substance; political hoppers that cannot even sustain a political chat group much less a political party; leaders who could not even put together a coalition of attention grabbers and publicity freaks.

I am not so much interested in new faces as I am in new ideas because this column has always insisted that what can result in a qualitative leap in this country is to find different ways of doing the same things.

I will give an example and show where there is both good and bad. There is an experiment taking place in Guyana- even though I am sure that this is how the Ministry of Agriculture will label it- wherein fish is cultivated in rice fields during the period when the fields have to be swamped. This has reportedly resulted in increased yields from 40 to 42 bags per acre.

The excitement with this idea, however, should not stem from this increase of two bags. In fact, considering the investment that must take place to cultivate the fish in the rice fields, such a marginal increase in output, even if it can be entirely attributed to the rearing of the fish, can be considered a failure because it makes no financial sense to risk so much for relatively so small a return.

The real excitement must come from the philosophy that we are not stuck in traditionalism; that we can break with the hardened way of doing things and approach old problems in new ways.

I for one believe that the survival of the rice industry in Guyana must involve growing rice in lager plots because the traditional rice industry was intended to keep many small farmers in a state of subsistence so that they would not abandon full time employment on the sugar plantations.

I believe that in the future, the competitiveness of our agriculture cannot be secured through low prices or higher yields but must involve a greater commitment to bio-genetics that would produce new and more resilient varieties. Coming from an old face, that sure as hell must be a good idea.
Read my response

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