If Mr Jordan had been responsible in dealing with Buxton’s proposal, he would still be finance minister

Dear Editor,

Let me respond to the former finance minister in the PANU+AFC government, Winston Jordan’s defense of the coalition government’s failure to pass the Buxton proposal put forward by Professor Clive Thomas and the WPA. He did this on Brother Kidackie Amsterdam’s Buxton Morning show on June 14, 2022.

Mr. Jordan began by stating that he was engaging Buxton’s proposal because Dr. David Hinds often raps (my term) the coalition about it. Having taken this position, he (Jordan) opened himself to changing narratives. Jordan, in explaining the previous government’s position, quickly backed down and said he would state the position he personally took at the time on Buxton’s proposal. I have no problem with politicians or technocrats serving in a government after that government is out of power defending or explaining the administration’s position on issues or the position taken on government policy, but listening Jordan, his opportunism on the issue is immediately recognizable, which I think says a lot about his political culture. What I declare here is the spirit of my intention – to advance the political culture of the nation.

During Jordan’s tenure as finance minister, economic policy issues fell within his portfolio. His responsibility was to provide leadership to government and cabinet on issues like the Buxton Proposal. Listening to him, we don’t know if Chairman David Granger benefited from Jordan’s views on Buxton’s proposal, either personally, in cabinet, or at any other coalition forum. He lets us speculate whether the stance he laid out on the Buxton Morning Show was formally expressed or were just informal responses he shared with his colleagues. Jordan said Buxton’s original proposal called for an annual payment of US$5,000 to each household, but did not specify at what stage of the production process this would apply. He also mentioned that he opposes universal payments to every Guyanese household and advocates for targeted transfers from oil revenues to be paid to the most vulnerable in society while stressing the need for education spending, citing the efforts of the coalition in this area. I will not address the correctness or merits or lack thereof in Jordon’s positions since my concern and focus is on “political culture”.

Knowing that the proposal came from a member party of the UNPA+AFC coalition, it is not necessary to be a political or economic expert to see the social/political value of the Buxton proposal. Mr Jordan is expected to tell the nation why he has not contacted the WPA and Professor Clive Thomas for clarification on Buxton’s proposal. He had two years to do it. It was only after the coalition lost power and Jordan was no longer finance minister that he became interested in Buxton’s proposal. The former minister is expected to say if he has ever sought Clive Thomas’ advice or opinion on economic or financial policy during his tenure. I declare that he never did and the political exclusion of the WPA explains the government’s inability to pass the Buxton proposal in a timely manner.

Jordan was quick to cite Jagdeo’s criticism/rejection of the WPA proposal, but remained silent on President Granger’s public statement of ignorance on universal cash transfers and his de facto practical rejection of the proposal. . Another concern is Jordan’s adoption of the approach employed by Granger to confuse the Buxton proposal. In making that observation, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that Jordan mentioned that the proposal was to use 10% of oil revenues. But a careful examination of his presentation will reveal that when he talked about alternative uses for the oil money, he gave the impression that Buxton’s proposal required 100% use of the revenue. Likewise, he did not specify that the alternative social policies he advocated could be funded at 90% of oil revenues after setting aside the 10% for the Buxton proposal. His misleading approach was consistent with that of critics of the WPA proposal, most of whom gave the mistaken impression that the WPA/Clive Thomas proposal was designed to use all the oil money on the Buxton proposal.

I end by commending former finance minister Winston Jordan for his activism now that he is no longer in government. Had he had the courage he shows today in providing public leadership on social, economic and political issues, his tenure as minister would have been more beneficial to the coalition and the nation. Specifically, if he had acted responsibly in dealing with the Buxton proposal, he would still be finance minister.

Tacuma Ogunseye

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