To-morrow the New Year 2017 will begin its march towards 2018. The New Year is often symbolized by a new-born baby who, every day grows bigger and bigger, moving forward all the time, until he is full-grown and ready to quietly retire off the scene making way for his successor. We are now within the progression of the New Year for the next 365 days and each one of those holds out a challenge to us to make our lives happy and useful to ourselves, our family and friends and our Society. Non-Western cultures which use lunar calendars have their New Year’s falling on dates different from 1st January.But despite the New Year being celebrated on different dates, people of all cultures share the same characteristic of regarding this date as marking a new beginning and as the rest of the New Year progresses onwards, people gird themselves to successfully meet its challenges. At the beginning of the New Year it is customary everywhere, therefore, for “New Year Resolutions” to be made. These “Resolutions” are in effect broad plans for the goals which one hopes to achieve during the New Year. The detailed plans under these broad areas of planning could only take shape as the year progresses and one is faced with the realities of existence.
The realities of existence which confront us are numerous and every person is faced with his or her own specifics. A few examples of these realities are one’s housing and the amenities of a home; relations with one’s family and other persons; education of children and development of one’s personal skills, enough food and clothing; dealing with matters of Law and the Courts; earning enough money to cover one’s expenses which is a worry not only for wage-earners and the unemployed but also for the self-employed; having to protect one’s social and economic rights which is equivalent to protecting one’s rights as a consumer; then there are the afflictions to one’s health, whether it is a mild ‘flu or a more serious illness.
We will take one or two of these realities and ruminate on them as challenges to be faced: For several weeks now the media have been writing about the National Budget which has finally been passed by Parliament. Those who were critical of the Budget complained that its basket of taxes would cause goods and services to become dearer and less affordable. They also claim that there are not many plans and possibilities for wealth generation by industry, agriculture and services and so there would be little expansion of employment and money. As against these forebodings, it is pointed out that workers would pay less income taxes and pensioners would enjoy larger old age pensions. Small businesses would be subsidized and training would be accorded those who wish to start new businesses. Such businesses will generate wealth and employment. And there are some infrastructural developments which would help economic development and so employment.
One could not know precisely how a Budget will impact until it begins to be operative and it is only then one could know what prognostications were valid or invalid. In any case, one should try to look at the positives and try to find the silver lining behind every dark cloud; by so doing one makes existence more bearable.
Another reality early in the New Year is that GTT has applied to the Public Utilities Commission to steeply increase landline telephone rates claiming they are not making enough profits. The Guyana Consumers Association and members of the public have rejected GTT’s rate increase demands on the basis that the landline is profitable. The Hearing of this matter by the PUC will take place in January, 2017 and the invitation to the public would be advertised and consumers are enjoined to attend. In Consumer Concerns in the first or second Sunday of January, we will address this issue and answer questions by telephone or preferably email.
Almost all Guyanese believe in God and as such, in one way or another, the Divinity features in New Year Resolutions. Many resolve to pray God to protect them and to face with fortitude the difficulties which may beset them during the New Year. Many people resolve year after year not to be lethargic in doing the world’s work. Yet at the end of the year there are still many important things which have been left undone and there is no time to do them. In this regard we shall share with readers the injunction of the great Roman Emperor and Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius: “Remember how long thou hast been putting off these things, and how often thou hast received an opportunity from God, and yet thou dost not use it … that a limit of time is fixed for thee, which if thou dost not use in clearing away the clouds from thy mind, it will go and thou wilt go.”