Since the passage of the People’s Progressive Party’s (PPP) No-Confidence Motion in December 2018, Guyana has been caught in a political and constitutional whirlwind. Fuelling this phenomenon, is first oil.
This is according to political commentator, Dr. David Hinds.
During an interview with the Guyana Standard, Dr. Hinds opined that unless something miraculous happens, the nation will be welcoming first oil in an extremely unstable state, which in turn, leaves it more vulnerable to the evils that plague oil producing nations.
The the University Professor said, “I think it is fair to say that the current political impasse is influenced in part by the coming oil and gas economy. Both major parties would like to be in office when the oil begins to flow for obvious reasons. First, the next government would have access to revenues that no previous government could even dream of. This then gives the government the opportunity to preside over the possible transformation of the economy which could, in turn, allow it to construct itself as the economic wizard or saviour.”
Dr. Hinds continued, “Second, it gives the government the opportunity to use the oil wealth to pursue its big agenda which in the case of the big parties, is grounded in a fusion of ethnic domination, neo-liberal economics and state clientelism. I am arguing that both parties would want to preside over the oil and gas economy for ethnic and ideological reasons.”
The political columnist added, “Both of them would be pressured to use the wealth to strengthen their ethnic political base through a combination of direct transfer of resources and ethnic clientelism to the lower classes of the ethnic groups.”
In this regard, Dr. Hinds contended that one could see, for example, the PPP wanting to continue the praxis of transferring public wealth into private hands in pursuit of its larger agenda of ethnic domination while at the same time, using some of the oil revenues to entice African Guyanese and Amerindians to join the PPP.
As for the APNU+AFC Coalition, Dr. Hinds said that this party is more driven by neo-liberal economics as an end in itself. He believes that the coalition would also be under pressure to use the wealth to empower its ethnic base.
“Because of its uncritical embrace of neo-liberal economics, it would be less concerned about ethnic correctness. In other words, it is less likely to directly funnel resources to its ethnic base and would prefer indirect transfers,” expressed Dr.Hinds while adding that in the end, the outcome would be identical.
Ideally, Dr.Hinds suggested that it would help if there is a National Government to preside over the new wealth. But unless something dramatic happens in the coming months, he insists that “we would be welcoming first oil as an extremely unstable country which in turn makes us more vulnerable than ever…”