March 12, 2007
The Government says that it cannot hike the salaries of teachers and members of the Police Force, because they are too many and any such increase would impact negatively on the national budget.
Indeed, ever since this country has been in the throes of the International Monetary Fund, it has had to follow the IMF prescription—cut public spending, allow free market business by removing price controls, and retrench.
For years, this country has been following the recipe with little evidence that the IMF medicine has been any good. One may conclude that, had Guyana not followed the IMF prescriptions, things would have been so much worse. This may not necessarily be true, because quite a few countries have simply terminated any arrangement with the IMF and continued on their individual development paths.
Jamaica is one, and from all appearances the country is none the worse for wear. In fact, one may argue that it has done better outside the IMF that when it had to adhere to the IMF prescriptions.
Guyana has not decided to take the bold step of ignoring the IMF prescriptions, perhaps because its economic base is not as large as Jamaica's and because its population is so small that it surely does not have enough people to undertake the tasks that could see this country move ahead in the world.
Some economists would conclude that the smaller the population, the better, and they would cite the smaller islands who seem to have done so much better that the major economies of Guyana and Jamaica.
If one were to look at Grenada that was devastated by Hurricane Ivan—about 90 per cent of the country was flattened three years ago—today, that country is gearing to host Cricket World Cup. The cost of constructing the stadium must have been astronomical, but build one it did.
The key to survival seems to lie in each person producing above and beyond his or her needs. The average rice farmer is just one, as are the ground provision farmer, the clothing manufacturer, the timber dealers, and the like.
There are those who must be supported because theirs is the task to keep the social fabric together. Yet, some of them can actually contribute to the national coffers. One shudders to calculate the sum of money a New York Traffic rank collects or causes to be collected in a given day.
The traffic department is so geared that ranks and wardens are assigned special blocks. They patrol these blocks with amazing regularity all day, and at the end of the day they issue no less than 50 tickets for a variety of traffic violations. The minimum penalty for a traffic violation is $50.
If one were to calculate the sum of money collectable each day, one could see that within a year the various ranks would collect enough money to pay the salaries of the entire Police Force, the Fire Department, and still have money left for the renovation of the various Police stations.
Perhaps we should examine this and try to adopt it in Guyana. With the few streets in Georgetown and its environs, not too many ranks need to be deployed. Each rank should be able to make no less that 20 charges in a day. If the minimum penalty is $1,500, then a rank would be pulling in $30,000 a day.
One hundred ranks would rake in $3 million a day; that would be more than enough to fund the operations of the Guyana Police Force. They would be able to secure the real salary that they deserve. By paying better salaries, the Force would be able to attract even better qualified people, and the improvement begins.
It is amazing how the developed world goes about its business and makes the system work. We in this corner of the world tend to depend too much on a central administration for our existence.
And while some people may consider this recommendation as a burden, the truth is that they need to be disciplined. If one cannot be disciplined, then one must be penalised.