Guyanese lawmakers must act now

first_imgDear Editor,It is with a heavy heart and a desperate appeal to basic human dignity and respect for life that I write this letter on behalf of the Guyanese people. When we cast our ballots on election’s day every five years, it was not only for selecting the next President; it was a public communication of trust onto those who hold public offices will honour and uphold the social contract between the People of Guyana and the Constitution.Public safety and security is not a privilege, but a constitutional right of every Guyanese. And it is the constitutional responsibility of the State to protect citizens from all forms of danger and threats to their life and property. When Guyanese pay taxes, they have honoured their side of the social contract. When the State fails to provide safety and security to its citizens it has effectively abandoned its constitutional duty.It is a national disrespect to tell the people of Guyana that there is a 21 per cent decrease in crime when almost every single day someone is losing their life. As a Social Scientist, I understand and respect the role of science in policy, but common sense must also guide our decisions. Even if we disagree with the statistics, we should all be outraged if one child, father or mother is taken from their families to senseless killing or one family is traumatised from banditry. Likewise, we must all be outraged if one business is robbed, vandalised or forced to close its doors because it cannot afford to pay for its own security.I commend the Guyana Chambers of Commerce & Industry (GCCI) for its initiative to step out of the norm and denounce such disrespect for human life and call on lawmakers to take immediate action to return communities to a place where people can pursue their happiness and live peacefully with their families. However, its proposed initiative to remove taxes for security equipment is colossally misguided. Requesting tax exemptions for security equipment might afford businesses to invest in better security systems to protect commercial properties. But focusing on businesses instead of your consumers – who are ordinary families – is like “protecting the DJ instead of the people at the party when someone screams fire.” Before long there is not a party. If we continue along this path, there will be no purpose of opening businesses.GCCI should also recognise that calling for tax exemptions on security equipment does nothing to give investors hope and confidence that Guyana is still an economy worthy of their investment. The Chamber should use the opportunity to mobilise support and call on the Government to employ full force of the police and the military if necessary to restore peace and security in the country, even if this means declaring a “State of National Emergency.”If families cannot feel safe in their homes, children cannot sleep and go to school without fearing for their lives and businesses cannot open doors without worrying about where bandits and robbers might come from. We are not honouring our responsibility as a sovereign nation and democracy to protect the People of Guyana.Brutalising and terrorising families, senseless killing, breaking and entering businesses and instilling fear in communities are not Afro-Guyanese, Indo-Guyanese, Amerindians, Chinese or Portuguese problems; they are Guyanese problems, and we all must play our part in fixing it now.We have always been a nation of strong, hard-working and peaceful people who would endure any hardship to succeed in the pursuit of our happiness and prosperity. We have as a nation answered the calls of history and fought for our freedom and the right to live our lives peacefully and with respect for each other and the law. Expecting us to sit quietly and accept such gross disrespect for human life and personal property is asking for too much.Lawmakers must act now, or history will remind us of those chilling words “too late.” On behalf of the Guyanese people.Sincerely,Dhanraj SinghEconomistlast_img read more