Mybelief that indigenous peoples are currently the most neglected among Guyanese under this regime is still intact. During the 39th Sitting of Parliament last Thursday, this belief was again vindicated by disregard for Amerindian development, displayed by the Government of Guyana.The responsibility to seek approval for a contingency sum of over $48 million for the Ministry of the Presidency and State House fell on the shoulders of the subject Minister, Joseph Harmon. Harmon defended that the massive sum covered installation of furniture and equipment for both State House and the Ministry, and included 6000 solar systems. Interestingly, these 6000 solar systems were part of a plan under the former PPP/C Government, to increase accessibility to electricity to Amerindians residing in the Hinterland.Further scrutiny by the Opposition PPP/C revealed that the solar systems have already been acquired by the coalition Government and according to Harmon, installation has already begun. As if to reassure himself of the legitimacy of such an extravagance, the Minister added that the initiative is intended to render “State House totally green”. When a breakdown of the $48 million was requested by the Opposition, Minister Harmon indicated that he could not provide the information but that “the bulk of the money had to do with the purchase of these solar systems”. Minister Harmon knows nothing of the details of this luxury – a burden borne by a Guyanese population taxed to the marrow.When asked by the Opposition if he was aware that the 6000 panels were part of a programme under the PPP/C Government since 2013, to develop the Hinterland and Amerindian homes, Harmon indicated he knew nothing of it. Instead, he audaciously and shamelessly defended that “this wasn’t the case as of May 2016”. Yet, he was a big wig of the PNC Opposition barely over a year ago, and witnessed his party gut the Amerindian budget of 2013 and 2014, deliberately stymieing Hinterland development.Then, the Minister was asked to provide specifics on the type of solar systems which were procured by his Government, in an attempt to determine whether they were the same which were scheduled for procurement under the former administration. Harmon indicated that he knew nothing of such details.When asked what was so urgent and unforeseen about these panels that they necessitated a contingency plan, especially since the subject Ministry and State House are equipped with fossil fuel back-up generators, Harmon, visibly harassed by the plethora of questions aimed at rendering the Government accountable to the Amerindian peoples of this country, finally had an answer.He retorted that the acquisition of 6000 solar systems just for the President’s residence and the Ministry of the Presidency “had to do with the quality of the building, the quality of the facilities which we [the coalition] found in those places”. This was his way of saying that unlike the Presidents before him, President Granger cannot live in a humble abode, even if that humble abode was State House. Evidently, his answer fell short of a reasonable explanation which suggested that again, the Minister knows nothing of contingency plans.Harmon was then asked to clarify whether or not there was a plan to convert all Guyanese homes to solar electricity and if so, when would the implementation phase commence. He responded with a generality, claiming that “It’s not just about putting a solar panel on every house. It involves more than [a] solar panel, it is an entire solar system that we’re talking about here.” However, he adamantly refused any further explanations as to when Guyanese can look forward to the benefits of renewable energies, presumably because he knows that there is no such policy or he knows nothing.This scenario can be described as nothing less than theft from the Amerindian peoples of this country, where tax dollars are being used to sustain the gluttony and avarice of a Government which has done nothing but trampled on the rights of farmers, Amerindians and the working poor while killing the economy. It is theft when tax dollars fund the continuous beautification of Georgetown, multimillion sporting and massive increases in Government salaries and travel expenses while there is no proportionate redistribution of wealth.But perhaps the true abomination of this theft lies in the silence of the Minister of Indigenous Affairs, powerless at the detriment of his people.
The students learned a practical lesson as well from last week’s protests. In Los Angeles, you can do just about anything – dress any way you like, act as crazy as you wish – as long as you don’t mess up traffic. It seemed the ire of local officials and the public toward the demonstrators escalated as the students took to the freeways to interrupt traffic. State Treasurer Phil Angelides has been on the campaign trail so long that he seems to be finding it difficult to separate when he is shilling for himself or a product. Angelides was appearing last week with talk radio’s Ron Owen in San Francisco when the host began reading a spot for a mattress ad. Playing along, Angelides extolled the virtues of a good mattress when the host mentioned the sponsor’s name. “Did I just participate in a product placement?” Angelides asked. Replied Owen: “What do you mean just? We’re doing it right now.” Staff Writer Harrison Sheppard contributed to this report. Rick Orlov, (213) [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl event Such was the case last week for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who was shouted and cursed at by student demonstrators at City Hall. After the mayor praised the students for their efforts on behalf of illegal immigrants, he then chastised them. The students, who wanted to hear “si, se puede” not “go back to class,” told an abashed Villaraigosa – in strong Spanish street slang – what they thought of his ideas. The following day, Villaraigosa took an even sterner approach, authorizing the Los Angeles Police Department to step up its action against truant students. The mayor’s difficulties with the students provoked both anguish and a bit of concealed joy among school officials. Anguish, because officials were hoping the mayor could appeal to the young people to return to class. But they couldn’t help but smirk a little as the mayor – who has made much of wanting to take over the school district – learned what every parent could have told him about the difficulty in getting through to a stubborn teen. When actor-comedian George Lopez got his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame last week, people were still thinking about the immigrants-rights protests that drew 500,000 people to downtown Los Angeles the previous Saturday. Attending the Hollywood Boulevard event for Lopez, City Council President Eric Garcetti took note of the record-breaking gathering. “Thanks for having me here,” Garcetti told the actor. “And I particularly enjoyed the Lopez family reunion. I didn’t realize your family was so big and so well-behaved.” Every politician eventually learns this lesson, no matter how popular he is: Your friends and supporters will cause the biggest headaches.