Coalition three years– Accuses coalition of being least democratic gov’tBy Samuel SukhnandanDays after A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance for Change (AFC) observed their third anniversary in Government, Guyanese political analyst Dr David Hinds has given a critical analysis of the Administration’s work, and has concluded that the shortcomings far outweigh their successes.Dr Hinds told Guyana Times on Sunday that Government has failed badly overall if one measures its performance against campaign promises and in the context of the historical moment.This, he said, has to do with an accumulation of bad decisions and a lack of larger vision for Guyana. “There is not even a pretense of transformation from this Government,” he noted.The Government, he noted, has done nothing about the vexing issue of public sector wages; and according to him, this failure has large implications for lifting thePolitical Analyst Dr David Hindssociety out of poverty.“This is happening while they raised Ministers’ salaries and paid hefty rent for some Ministers,” he reminded.When it comes to the Government’s handling of crime and security, the political analyst claimed that the coalition has not been able to even put a small dent on crime. “In fact, crime has gotten worse within the last three years. There is no overall strategy on how to tackle this multi-faceted problem,” he observed.Dr Hinds said Government stumbled badly on the oil sector. “There is too much secrecy. There is no clear nationalist strategy on how to garner the best outcome for Guyana. Decisions are disproportionately in favour of the foreign oil companies. Decision-making is confined to too few people in Government.”Hinds also told Guyana Times that, overall, there is not enough accountability displayed by the Government. He claimed that there has been too much ‘clientelism’—many major appointments going to ex-military personnel and party people who are mostly African Guyanese. While he said this move was expected, he still thinks there has been too much of it practised by this Government.Shifting his attention to another issue, Dr Hinds noted that there has been no change in the way Government treats state-owned media. “They started with some degree of openness when they first came to power, but they slipped right back into the bad habit of party propaganda. Even Government supporters don’t buy the Chronicle because they still perceive it as a party propaganda medium,” Hinds said. A former columnist with that same newspaper, Dr Hinds opined that its operation is a waste of taxpayers’ money, and it stifles the growth of the journalistsPresident David Granger and Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoowho work in the state media.“They can’t be creative—they go to work every day knowing that they are expected to censor themselves and bend stories to suit party dictates,” he expressed.He also cited the unilateral actions taken by Government, especially when it didn’t have to go that route. The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) chair saga is one of the issues raised.However, Dr Hinds, also an executive member of the Working Peoples Alliance (WPA), a partner in the coalition Government, told this newspaper that the worst performance of the Government has been its own lack of consultation within its ranks.“There has been no consultation within the APNU and between the APNU and AFC. The APNU hardly meets, and there is no forum for APNU and AFC meetings outside of Cabinet. All Government decisions are taken at Cabinet; the coalition parties do not participate in deliberations on Government action.”As such, he described the coalition as the least democratic Government in Guyana’s post-colonial history as far as decision-making is concerned. He said, “At least under (Forbes) Burnham’s paramountcy of the party, the party was involved. This lack of consultation derails any good the Government is doing, as it constantly has to deal with protests by junior partners.”Dr Hinds said the WPA, and to some extent the AFC, are treated with scant consideration by the (Peoples National Congress) PNC Government leadership.“The APNU leadership took three months to respond to an AFC letter. You can imagine how long it takes to respond to the WPA,” he added.SuccessesMeanwhile, in listing some of the achievements made by the coalition Government, Dr Hinds said that while the administration has not articulated a cohesive ethnic-impact policy, it has nevertheless exhibited sensitivity to the ethnic interests of the three major ethnic groups.“The Government must be given high marks for its outreach into the Amerindian communities. These are often neglected communities by Government, until election time. The Government seems to have a clear policy of engagement in that community, which augurs well for the future,” he added.Further, the political analyst said although there have been a few instances of discrimination against critics of the Government, there have been no systematic human rights abuses. This, he said, must be a significant achievement, given Guyana’s long history of hyper-authoritarianism.“The Government must also be complimented on keeping its campaign promise to hold long overdue Local Government elections. This is a major accomplishment. Local Government is an important plank of democratic governance which has been badly neglected by previous Governments,” he added.Although Dr Hinds criticised Government for its handling of the downsizing of the sugar industry, he said the Government must be commended for confronting the problem. According to him, while previous Governments have kicked the ball down the road, the coalition decided to tackle the problem.While noting that the Government erred in the implementation of the downsizing plan, had inadequate consultation, and was late with the alternative plan and payments, “The deliberate engagement with the sugar industry shows that the Government is sensitive to the ethnic interests of Indian Guyanese,” he concluded.